Monday, December 29, 2008


After watching Christmas programming for the last couple of weeks, I must ask:

Did it ever occur to anyone that the Whos were just obnoxious? Think if your neighbors were making all that racket. What would you do?

I'm not saying I would have embarked on a crime spree, but I have new sympathy for The Grinch, heart two sizes too small or not.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

LifeTeen Founder Excommunicated

Bishop of Phoenix Thomas J. Olmsted has issued a decree of excommunication to Monsignor Dale Fushek, founder of LifeTeen, and Father Mark Dippre for their establishment of and leadership in an "opposing ecclesial community."

I don't think I even knew this stuff was going on. I'll admit that I've never been to a LifeTeen Mass, but folks on both sides of the fence describe them as more suited for VH1 than EWTN. I have met quite a few LifeTeen promoters and they have all had a few things in common.

1. A striking disregard for the supernatural aspect of the Mass.
2. An unhealthy emphasis on their feelings.
3. Very little idea of what the Church is.

These characteristics also seem to be shared by Msgr. Fushek. He and his colleagues apparently thought that indifferentism was a better deal than the Mystical Body of Christ and decided to found a non-denominational "praise and worship center." According to the CNA article, "Their meetings regularly draw 250 to 300 people. The priests’ 90-minute services begin at 10 am each Sunday and feature much music but do not include sacraments. Reportedly, the priests have repeatedly said their services are not to be considered 'Catholic' in any way."

After repeatedly ignoring requests by His Excellency, Bishop Olmsted, to discontinue their public ministry in this farce, the Msgr. Fushek and one of the above-mentioned colleagues have now been excommunicated.

First, let me remind everyone that we should offer our prayers that these guys will take notice of their errors, repent, and reconcile with the Church.

Second, we should praise Bishop Olmsted for taking such a courageous action in the face of what is probably going to be a lot of negative publicity. He was left with no alternative, though. If you don't think that activities like those of Fushek are bad, I invite you to read these comments from "Catholics" who attend the "praise and worship" services.

"I go to Mass for my sacraments, and I go to Praise and Worship for my Christian fulfillment," Stan Nicpon said, adding that it has a "good community feeling."

Stan is the perfect example of what I described above. Note that he doesn't have any idea of the sacraments as being Christian fulfillment. Yeah, Stan, receiving the Body and Blood of Christ and participating in the Mystical Liturgy of Heaven, the Sacrifice of Calvary, and the most important event on the planet just doesn't quite make for "fulfillment," right? What's really important is that we get good feelings out of it.

I wonder if Stan comprehends the selfishness involved in thinking that his worship of God has anything to do with whether or not he feels good.

His wife Jan described her reaction to the service, saying "It is kind of a fulfillment beyond church. It is just a lot of great music that kind of fills you with a good spirit, inspiration and hope — a lot of hope."

Fulfillment beyond the Body of Christ. Fulfillment beyond the communion of self with Savior. Ooo, ooo! And great music, too! Did I mention the music? It makes you feel so awesome!

What Jan is describing sounds more like an Obama rally or a trip to Dave & Buster's. Again, more emphasis on herself, rather than God. More ignorance as to what the Church is.

When a bishop is faced with such revolting comments as those expressed by Stan and Jan, along with willful disobedience from those who would lead the flock astray, he really only has 2 choices (if he's going to be a responsible shepherd, that is). He can either be St. Nicholas or St. Thomas Becket. Thankfully, His Excellency opted for the latter and avoided the potential lawsuit posed by the former.

Pray for all those involved, especially Stan and Jan who do not seem to know how far they have wandered off the reservation.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Big News from Boston

St. John's seminary in Boston, once on the road to closure, has gotten a huge reprieve in the form of a surge in enrollment. Per the Globe:

Enrollment at St. John's Seminary has doubled over the last two years, a stunning turnabout for an institution that seemed to be spiraling toward closure in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse crisis.

The stone hall in Brighton, where two generations ago hundreds of young men prepared for the priesthood, is still strikingly quiet, but the pews of the Romanesque chapel are now about one-third full, as fresh-faced young men from around the world help to revive a 125-year-old institution that teetered on the brink of extinction just a few years ago.

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, who resisted calls from priests to close the Catholic seminary when he arrived as archbishop of Boston five years ago, has made preserving St. John's a top priority for his administration, and has cajoled bishops from New England and beyond to send young men to Boston to prepare for the priesthood. This fall there are 87 men studying theology at St. John's, up from 42 two years ago.

I'm not sold on the Neocatechumenal Way, which is a source for some of these guys, but this is a postive sign no matter what, I think. I hear that seminaries are seeing increased enrollment everywhere. I haven't seen numbers to that effect, but every time the subject comes up, that's what people say. The reaction from the Pope's visits around the world seem to bear witness to an increased interest in the Church by younger folk. Considering the rapport JPII had built with the youth, that's saying a lot. Hopefully, we will see more concrete stories like this in the new year.

Friday, December 26, 2008

And God Blessed Us, Every One

Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentile take courage in that he is called to life. For the Son of God in the fulness of time which the inscrutable depth of the Divine counsel has determined, has taken on him the nature of man, thereby to reconcile it to its Author: in order that the inventor of death, the devil, might be conquered through that (nature) which he had conquered. And in this conflict undertaken for us, the fight was fought on great and wondrous principles of fairness; for the Almighty Lord enters the lists with His savage foe not in His own majesty but in our humility, opposing him with the same form and the same nature, which shares indeed our mortality, though it is free from all sin. Truly foreign to this nativity is that which we read of all others, “no one is clean from stain, not even the infant who has lived but one day upon.” Nothing therefore of the lust of the flesh has passed into that peerless nativity, nothing of the law of sin has entered. A royal Virgin of the stem of David is chosen, to be impregnated with the sacred seed and to conceive the Divinely-human offspring in mind first and then in body. And lest in ignorance of the heavenly counsel she should tremble at so strange a result, she learns from converse with the angel that what is to be wrought in her is of the Holy Ghost. Nor does she believe it loss of honour that she is soon to be the Mother of God. For why should she be in despair over the novelty of such conception, to whom the power of the most High has promised to effect it. Her implicit faith is confirmed also by the attestation of a precursory miracle, and Elizabeth receives unexpected fertility: in order that there might be no doubt that He who had given conception to the barren, would give it even to a virgin.

Therefore the Word of God, Himself God, the Son of God who “in the beginning was with God,” through whom “all things were made” and “without” whom “was nothing made,” with the purpose of delivering man from eternal death, became man: so bending Himself to take on Him our humility without decrease in His own majesty, that remaining what He was and assuming what He was not, He might unite the true form of a slave to that form in which He is equal to God the Father, and join both natures together by such a compact that the lower should not be swallowed up in its exaltation nor the higher impaired by its new associate. Without detriment therefore to the properties of either substance which then came together in one person, majesty took on humility, strength weakness, eternity mortality: and for the paying off of the debt, belonging to our condition, inviolable nature was united with possible nature, and true God and true man were combined to form one Lord, so that, as suited the needs of our case, one and the same Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, could both die with the one and rise again with the other.

Rightly therefore did the birth of our Salvation impart no corruption to the Virgin’s purity, because the bearing of the Truth was the keeping of honour. Such then beloved was the nativity which became the Power of God and the Wisdom of God even Christ, whereby He might be one with us in manhood and surpass us in Godhead. For unless He were true God, He would not bring us a remedy, unless He were true Man, He would not give us an example. Therefore the exulting angel’s song when the Lord was born is this, “Glory to God in the Highest,” and their message, “peace on earth to men of good will.” For they see that the heavenly Jerusalem is being built up out of all the nations of the world: and over that indescribable work of the Divine love how ought the humbleness of men to rejoice, when the joy of the lofty angels is so great?

Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon 21.

I hope you all had a wonderful and joyful Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quas Primas: Nuff Said

It’s Advent. When we think about what that means, these remarks stand alone.

If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Quas Primas: Giving It a Go, Pt. III

When we last left this topic, the question was about how Christ’s Kingship and the authority of the civil leader are related. Quite simply, if all power in heaven and earth have been granted to Christ, as He Himself says in Scripture, then any power exercised here by someone else is actually just derivatively wielding Christ’s power. Can they abuse this power? Sure. That doesn’t change the source of that power, though. Would the secularist say that a President legally waging an unjust war somehow lacks the authority to do so? Of course not.

What is lost in all this Church/State discussion is that the Church’s view serves to protect the civil authority from upheaval.

When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our Lord's regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen's duty of obedience. If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent. Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man. Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished.

In other words, if we view the civil authorities as participating in the power wielded by Christ, we are more apt to regain the respect for that authority that seems to be missing in modern times. If the ruler himself understands the source of his authority in this way, he is less likely to abuse it, knowing that his power is not his own and that .God will judge him more severely for that abuse. Rather than exercising his office for his own selfish ends, the ruler will instead consider the common good (which includes the spiritual good).

The part that really gives the Church/State dissenters the willies is that the above clearly does not allow for religious indifferentism or any other waffling what it comes to what is True and what isn’t. If Christ is King, then His Church clearly cannot be regarded on the same footing as other faiths. Ignoring this fact produces moral decay and confusion:

The right which the Church has from Christ himself, to teach mankind, to make laws, to govern peoples in all that pertains to their eternal salvation, that right was denied. Then gradually the religion of Christ came to be likened to false religions and to be placed ignominiously on the same level with them. It was then put under the power of the state and tolerated more or less at the whim of princes and rulers. Some men went even further, and wished to set up in the place of God's religion a natural religion consisting in some instinctive affection of the heart. There were even some nations who thought they could dispense with God, and that their religion should consist in impiety and the neglect of God. The rebellion of individuals and states against the authority of Christ has produced deplorable consequences.

And it's been all downhill since deplorable. Not sure what the word for the here and now would be.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Bible Actually Supports Gay Marriage

Who knew! Certainly not anyone who has bothered to read it. Luckily, though, Lisa Miller over at Newsweek is willing to set all of us idiots straight. Make sure you pay special attention to how she completely blows off Paul's "tough" rhetoric contra homosexuality by appealing to a "modern scholar."

I keep saying it because it's true. It's looking more like 1984 every day. Pretty soon, we'll be reading articles about how 2+2=5.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quas Primas: Giving It a Go, Pt. II

I like this bit of Quas Primas because it basically amounts to the Jesus civics lesson. Legislative, executive, and judicial powers are found in the civil government, but the real such authority lies with Christ:

Let Us explain briefly the nature and meaning of this lordship of Christ. It consists, We need scarcely say, in a threefold power which is essential to lordship. This is sufficiently clear from the scriptural testimony already adduced concerning the universal dominion of our Redeemer, and moreover it is a dogma of faith that Jesus Christ was given to man, not only as our Redeemer, but also as a law-giver, to whom obedience is due. Not only do the gospels tell us that he made laws, but they present him to us in the act of making them. Those who keep them show their love for their Divine Master, and he promises that they shall remain in his love. He claimed judicial power as received from his Father, when the Jews accused him of breaking the Sabbath by the miraculous cure of a sick man. "For neither doth the Father judge any man; but hath given all judgment to the Son." In this power is included the right of rewarding and punishing all men living, for this right is inseparable from that of judging. Executive power, too, belongs to Christ, for all must obey his commands; none may escape them, nor the sanctions he has imposed.

All this is a set up to the real nuts and bolts of the encyclical. What with all this Kingly power, the question becomes what is the object of Christ’s Kingship.

This kingdom (Christ’s kingdom) is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things.

“Aha!” shout the Church/State separators. “It’s a spiritual kingdom, so keep that Jesus guy and His Church out of our secular government!”

Nope. Not that simple.

It would be a grave error, on the other hand, to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power. Nevertheless, during his life on earth he refrained from the exercise of such authority, and although he himself disdained to possess or to care for earthly goods, he did not, nor does he today, interfere with those who possess them. Non eripit mortalia qui regna dat caelestia.

Thus the empire of our Redeemer embraces all men. To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ." Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved." He is the author of happiness and true prosperity for every man and for every nation. "For a nation is happy when its citizens are happy. What else is a nation but a number of men living in concord?" If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ. What We said at the beginning of Our Pontificate concerning the decline of public authority, and the lack of respect for the same, is equally true at the present day. "With God and Jesus Christ," we said, "excluded from political life, with authority derived not from God but from man, the very basis of that authority has been taken away, because the chief reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated. The result is that human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation."

In a nutshell- Jesus is King of all that is. That includes you. All of you. Not just the part that you want him involved with. As Paul says, we’ve been purchased at a great price, namely, the blood of the God-Man. The Almighty isn’t Wal-Mart. There is no returns policy.

So the question shifts again. How is Christ’s authority as King related to the governing authority of our civil rulers? Tune in next time as Pius XI repeats the Church’s answer which, if we take this idea of Christ as King seriously, is the only possible answer there can be.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Being a Daddy Again

Friday morning, I awoke to the sound of my wife gasping in pain next to me. Most of you don't know my wife, so I'll go ahead and tell you that she's a pretty tough customer and is sort of from the "I ain't got time to bleed" school when it comes to pain. In other words, if she's gasping and paralyzed from a specific hurt, I know it must be serious.

It took a lot of coaxing, but I finally convinced her to let me take her to the hospital emergency room. This is something else that she's bad about: not getting medical help when it's needed. At this point, there wasn't anything that she could have done about it anyway. She was in too much pain to fight me, and I'm stronger than her and was getting really worried.

We made it to the hospital and, of course, they started running all the typical lab work, including a urinalysis. Despite her pain, we spent our time joking about how this was the worst case of gas either of us had ever seen. Sure, she was yelling at me not to make her laugh, but it took the edge off and, like I said, I was getting really worried.

The doctor returned with the lab results and informed us that the UA indicated a pregnancy. My heart leapt. I already have three sons, but she and I had discussed having more. Very little compares with the joys of fatherhood, and I found myself mentally playing through what the next few months and years had in store. I took this as just another difficult pregnancy. We'd had those before, albeit nothing this bad. But my thoughts quickly turned away from that to visions of ultrasounds, feeling for kicks, my wife's glow, the agony/ecstacy of labor, a little blanket-bound body, etc.

Then the doctor made his follow-up. "We're worried it's ectopic." My wife was clearly way ahead of me as she harmonized with the physician perfectly as he said it. It took a couple of seconds for me to grasp all this. My brain sort of went into a freefall. We were supposed to leave for DisneyWorld with my parents in a few hours. It was Christmas-time; stuff like this doesn't happen around Christmas. This can't happen. I'm supposed to get to be a daddy again.

As we waited for the ambulance, reality began to set in. We didn't talk about what this all actually meant, yet. We just hugged each other and cried. Transport was even worse. I had to ride at the front of the ambulance, so I couldn't be with her at all. The hospital wasn't much better. They took her away right when we got there while I filled out the endless miles of paperwork. When I finally got back to her, what I got to see was her being tortured with an ultrasound, screaming as the tech was forced to press harder and harder on her stomach. They couldn't see anything. Not that we would have had any choice anyways. We knew that surgery was coming.

When the doctor came out to update me on how things were going, he told me that (a) she was fine, (b) the pregnancy was indeed ectopic and (c) that it had already ruptured. He was going to clean out the wound and that would be that. The blood loss was already stopped.

It's tough to express what happened after that. I was happy that my wife was going to be ok, but I think I was just as happy that the rupture had already happened. To this point, I had been dreading the moment of decision. At some point, I just knew that I was going to be asked to give the word to abort our child. I would have done so (and no, I'm not going to make this a double-effect post). I don't know if I could have lived with that, though. I know what you're thinking. "But you had to save your wife. The baby was going to die anyway." All that is very true. Maybe that makes the decision easier to make. I'm not sure that it makes it easier to live with. I will always thank God for taking that call away from me.

Providence is a weird thing. I went to Mass yesterday while the missus was still in the hospital. The church was a block away so it was a quick walk, though I'm sure my three days of unshowered body funk made for a less than fun time for my pew neighbors. I was still (and probably still am) something of a basketcase, so I didn't catch anything from the homily until the priest closed out with, "We are to praise God in everything. This is easy when we see a beautiful child and thank God for that child. Or look at nature and praise God for the wonders of His creation. But it is so very hard when we carry our cross. I myself am still learning."

So am I.

Then Job rose up . . . and worshipped, And said . . . "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord."

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

PS- I have some posts scheduled to come up over the next few days, but I won't be around, so if you leave comments or questions, it might take me a while to get around to them.

Post-Synodal Shenanigans

Just because the Synod is over, don’t think that there aren’t still problems with it. What we’re getting now are the propositions being forwarded to the Holy Father for review. My biggest concern, mentioned here in a previous post, was the treatment of Dei Verbum 11. The Instrumentum Laboris took what seemed to be a heretical view of this passage. The post-Synodal proposition isn’t much better. Prop 12 reads:

Inspiration and truth of the Bible

The Synod proposes that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clarify the concepts of inspiration and truth of the Bible, as well as their reciprocal relationship, in order to understand better the teaching of "Dei Verbum" 11. In particular, it is necessary to highlight the originality of the Catholic biblical hermeneutics in this field.

The CDF needs to comment? Why? Is there a reason why the unanimous consent of the Fathers, multiple ecumenical councils, and four popes from the last century alone aren’t good enough? I’m having difficulty seeing this as anything other than modernists trying to get their foot in the door. So far, I’ll admit to being ok with the big items Levada has come out with during his tenure. It would be awesome if his response was to censure the morons who continue to try and make this some sort of issue.

Prop 25 from the Synod isn’t much better:

Need for two levels in exegetical research

The biblical hermeneutic proposed in "Dei Verbum," 12, continues to be of great present importance and efficacy, which envisages two different and correlative methodological levels.

The first level corresponds, in fact, to the so-called historical-critical methods that, in modern and contemporary research, often was used with fruitfulness and that entered the Catholic field, above all with the encyclical "Divino Afflante Spiritu" of the servant of God Pius XII. This method is necessary by the very nature of the history of salvation, which is not mythology, but a true history with its apex in the incarnation of the Word, divine and eternal, who comes to dwell in men's time (cf. John 1:14). The Bible and the history of salvation, therefore, also call for study with the methods of serious historical research.

The second methodological level necessary for a correct interpretation of the sacred Scriptures, corresponds to the nature, also divine, of human biblical words. The Second Vatican Council justly recalls that the Bible must be interpreted with the help of the same Holy Spirit who guided its writing.

Biblical hermeneutic cannot be considered carried out if -- along with the historical study of the texts -- it does not also seek its theological dimension in an adequate manner. "Dei Verbum" identifies and presents the three decisive references to arrive at the divine dimension and, therefore, to the theological meaning of the sacred Scriptures. It is a question of the content and the unity of the whole of Scripture, of the living tradition of the whole Church and, finally, of attention to the analogy of the faith. "Only where the two methodological levels are observed, the historical-critical and the theological, can one speak of a theological exegesis, an exegesis adequate to this book" (Benedict XVI, Oct. 14, 2008).

The historical-critical method is “necessary.” It actually says that. How amazing that the Church was able to do without it for 1900 years or so. I’ll be frank. If I may borrow a line from my colleague Karl, the historical-critical method is largely for sucks. Sure, it has some value, as Pope Benedict points out in his Jesus of Nazareth book. It’s primary use, though, is to serve as a lever for heretics to shoehorn naturalist a naturalist reading of Scripture into Church forums. This is where we get this popular attempt to separate the “historical Jesus” from the “Christ of Faith.” I guess the proposition tries to clarify its point here in an orthodox way, but that doesn’t change the fact that the beginning premise is ludicrous.

You can read all the propositions over on Zenit.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Quas Primas: Giving It a Go

As I stated a while back, I am going to try to do Quas Primas justice, though I’m sure that my efforts will be in vain. It’s too good to pass up, especially for Advent, when so many of the proclamations of Our Lord’s Kingship occurred. Pius XI even comments on how so many of the Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament had this Kingship as their theme. For example:

That of Isaias is well known: "For a child is born to us and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God the mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace. He shall sit upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever."

Of course, Christ’s own words are sufficient to demonstrate that He certainly was a King, far moreso than any mere earthly ruler:

Moreover, Christ himself speaks of his own kingly authority: in his last discourse, speaking of the rewards and punishments that will be the eternal lot of the just and the damned; in his reply to the Roman magistrate, who asked him publicly whether he were a king or not; after his resurrection, when giving to his Apostles the mission of teaching and baptizing all nations, he took the opportunity to call himself king, confirming the title publicly, and solemnly proclaimed that all power was given him in heaven and on earth. These words can only be taken to indicate the greatness of his power, the infinite extent of his kingdom. What wonder, then, that he whom St. John calls the "prince of the kings of the earth" appears in the Apostle's vision of the future as he who "hath on his garment and on his thigh written 'King of kings and Lord of lords!'." It is Christ whom the Father "hath appointed heir of all things"; "for he must reign until at the end of the world he hath put all his enemies under the feet of God and the Father."

And naturally, and perhaps most fittingly for this day so soon after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we have Gabriel’s joyous words to the Blessed Mother:

This same doctrine of the Kingship of Christ which we have found in the Old Testament is even more clearly taught and confirmed in the New. The Archangel, announcing to the Virgin that she should bear a Son, says that "the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."

Maybe I’m completely screwed up, but it seems to me that living in liberal democracy-type societies has completely warped our mind’s perception of authority. What is a senator, congressman, or president? Just some guy like me who was picked by other guys like me to keep the trains running on time. Sure, if we were going to meet the President, we’d probably dress nicely and mind our manners, but that would probably be the extent of our acknowledging of his position. Kings get genuflections, kissed hands, bows, and general abasement.

Part of me wonders if the lack of respect that we show to Christ and the sacraments which bring Him near us (incessant, loud talking in Church; ignoring confession; receiving the Eucharist in a state of sin; wearing crap clothes to Mass; and so forth) isn’t because we have no idea of how to respond to kingly authority. It reminds me of the following line in the Clint Eastwood classic, Unforgiven, when English Bob (Richard Harris) is discussing the assassination of President Garfield:

If you were to try to assassinate a king, sir, the, how shall I say it, the aura of royalty would cause you to miss. But, a president, [chuckles] I mean, why not shoot a president?

Nigeria and India

Cardinal Arinze's homeland of Nigeria has re-emerged as a hotbed of anti-Christian persecutions at the hands of Muslims. Ruth Gledhill reports:

Horrific stories of ruthless killings on the streets of Jos in northern Nigeria are emerging. At least one church pastor was shot dead, along with three members of his household and an Augustinian monastery attacked, the abbot narrowly escaping death after a molotov cocktail was thrown into his room. The Church Times and The Economist have reports, with the latter reporting that mosques were also burned down. On Thursday I spoke to the Bishop of Jos, Dr Benjamin Kwashi. According to his eyewitness report, the violence was directed solely against Christians, with some Muslims shot by armed forces only when they broke curfew. Estimates vary, but it seems about 400 people might have been killed. While not lessening the horror of that atrocity, this is about twice the number killed in Mumbai.

I wonder if CNN will even bother reporting. And for those who would insist that this is just some random outbreak of violence:

Dr Kwashi insisted the whole thing had been long in the planning and was not a spontaneous response to the elections, as is claimed.'I was woken up at about two in the morning last Friday morning. The roads coming into Jos and going out of Jos had been blocked by Muslim youths chanting Allahu Akbar. Other Muslim youths inside the town were by now burning churches and killing Christians. We have not had the exact figure of those killed.'

In India, security concerns have resulted in the cancellation of Christmas ceremonies in at least one diocese, per Zenit.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Congratulations to His Excellency, Bishop Jaime Soto for his appointment to the Diocese of Sacramento. The story is here at the OC Register. If you’ll recall, Bishop Soto was the shepherd who had the courage to speak the truth of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality to a conference focusing on homosexuality. Hopefully, we’ll see more such appointments for the continuing future.

Cardinal Arinze Has Stepped Down

The Catholic Hierarchy News is reporting that he's retired and that Cardinal Canizares Llovera is taking over as prefect of the CDW.

I personally don't know anything about this guy, but Rocco Palma over at Whispers in the Loggia seems to think that he'll be a strongly traditional guy. Hey, he's already on the Ecclesia Dei Commission, so that has to be a good sign. Rocco's picture of the new prefect is freaking awesome, by the way.

In memory of Cardinal Arinze's reign as prefect, everyone should take a look at Redemptionis Sacramentum, probably his most well-known bit of work.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

I missed Mass yesterday. I’m ticked. I hate it when I miss Mass. It was a Holy Day of Obligation and I just blew it. The one Mass of the day here was at 7 AM, and I just woke my kids up and got ready for work as though it was any other day. But it wasn’t. It was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

This isn’t going to be a long shpiel about how the Immaculate Conception is really Mary’s conception, rather than Jesus’s. I’m just going to point out something that I try to harp on. God’s grace is way bigger than people can imagine.

Jesus didn’t have to turn water into wine at Cana. But he did. He didn’t have to feed 5000 people with enough leftovers for 12 baskets. Why not just enough to get everyone full? When the Apostles were fishing, He didn’t have to load their nets up to the breaking point. A few here and there would have been fine.

He didn’t have to make His Mother conceived without sin, but it was absolutely fitting that He do so. God isn’t just about giving the bare minimum. When He brought forth His Mother, He provided Himself with a vessel and nurturer greater in the order of grace than any other being ever wrought, and yes, that includes the highest of the angels. On a side note, there are some who have actually speculated that the reason for Satan’s fall was that God revealed to the angels that He would make a human creation that, while lower in the order of nature, would outstrip them all in the supernatural order of grace. This was what Satan’s pride could not accept, that a human woman would be placed on a level higher than he. It’s also why God immediately places enmity between Satan and “The Woman” after the Fall. But I digress . . .

He also gave to us a Mother that would be Queen of Heaven and Earth, an honor of which we are all quite undeserving. Could God have saved us without all this? Sure, it wasn’t necessary or anything. But it was most fitting. Be thankful that Our God is so generous as to give us so marvelous a wonder as Our Mother.

Rowan Weeps, Schori Rejoices

From OneNewsNow:

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has joined seven other dioceses in passing a resolution asking the church to let lesbians as well as homosexual men become bishops.

And the collapse continues.

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here . . .

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yes, Arius. There is a Santa Claus.

Here’s an image for you. Think of Santa Claus, yes jolly old St. Nick, sitting around with a group of his peers, listening to a guy speak. The speaker then makes a comment that denies the divinity of Christ. Imagine then, our cheerful and charity-driven St. Nick rising from his seat and crossing the room to stand alongside the speaker. Envision the sparkle in his eyes as he draws back his merry hand and, without so much as a “Ho, Ho, Ho,” slaps the speaker across the face with all the strength that his jovial person can muster.

Doesn’t really fit the "classic" Santa image, does it? This is exactly what St. Nicholas, as bishop of Myra, did at the Council of Nicea in 325. Basically, he had enough of the Arian lunacy that was being proclaimed and decided to shut their pie holes with the most blunt means at his disposal, in this case, the back of his hand. Isn't this story much more awesome than riding around with flying reindeer, though? It certainly grabs the kids' attention when you tell it to them. While the top picture is probably a bit more accurate as to St. Nicholas's appearance, I like the one on the bottom because there's something about the eyes where you can sort of see the man who would silence heresy in this most old-fashioned of ways.

Strangely enough, Christmas which is all about the glory of the Incarnation, stirs no such zeal within the modern Christian. Too many these days don't see a denial of the Word Made Flesh as anything other than something to shrug at and dismiss with the casual observation of "To each his own." Our ancestors in the Faith knew better and reacted with the appropriate degree of horror when presented with such an abominable concept.

St. Nicholas, pray for us!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Behold, He Comes

As it is Advent, the Incarnation is nigh. We will celebrate the Almighty God's arrival in the flesh to our universe of space and time. I was thinking of the following to help set the mood for kids in my Catechism class. It's the Cherubic Hymn from the Liturgy of St. James. I don't know if he's really the guy who wrote it, but I can think of few words more appropriate for the occasion.

Let all mortal flesh be silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and meditate nothing earthly within itself:—

For the King of kings and Lord of lords, Christ our God, comes forward to be sacrificed, and to be given for food to the faithful; and the bands of angels go before Him with every power and dominion, the many-eyed cherubim, and the six-winged seraphim, covering their faces, and crying aloud the hymn, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Eternal Memory!

The patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexei II, has died. It would be an act of Christian charity to pray for the repose of his soul, and also for the Church he headed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Moral Theology's Return to Thomism: Don't Call It a Comeback

He's been here for years.

Zenit has a good story about the current blossoming interest in Thomism that is occurring among moral theologians. Note that 1968 is given as the period when St. Thomas began to fall out of popularity in this field. The effects of Humanae Vitae are legion. I think that His Eminence is a bit off with that date, though. Pick up any book immediately pre- or post-Vatican II and you'll see the same anti-Scholastic crap being spewed. Two good examples would be Fr. Cyprian Cooney's book Understanding the New Theology and Fr. Frederick Crowe's A Time of Change.

Weird thing about these "new theology" guys. The first item of practical application for the Faith that always went out the window for them was the Church's doctrines on moral issues and sin. All of a sudden, you had folks spouting insanities like spotting married couples a few divorces before getting serious about the sacrament. Or that maybe contraception, fornication, etc. really aren't so bad. Or that there really isn't such a thing as mortal sin at all.

This led us to the theological trash heap known as the "fundamental option." Some folks might be surprised to hear me say this, but this is probably the most poisonous heresy of the last century. Yes, you can say it's just a manifestation of modernism, but modernism, by its nature, takes so many forms that even describing it is tough (as St. Pius X admitted).

If you've never heard of it, fundamental option (hereafter- FO) is the idea that folks, over time, build up this "fundamental" perspective/orientation/choice/whatever that is either for God or against God. This isn't defined by any specific actions, but rather by a sort of collective appraisal of where you come down on loving God and others or basically pursuing your own selfish needs. In other words, just being a generally swell guy/gal is what really matters. Where it really goes off the rails is when its supporters begin claiming that individual actions are rendered meaningless, as no single act of sin is sufficient to separate you from God because all God cares about is whether your FO is still for Him. Mortal sin, of course, is immediately eliminated from our theology at this point.

This is the source of the new Pelagianism. This teaching has been so thoroughly disseminated amongst the laity that folks don't really mind sin so much anymore. Why? Because they know they are a "good person." The rampant religious indifferentism in the Church? All rooted in this same idea that Person X is just "too nice" not to go to heaven. Personal preferences reign while grace is ignored. I helps people feel good about themselves and others, though, when they aren't having to actually behave themselves or consider their accountability for their actions.

It's all been very condemned, naturally. Veritatis Splendor was the most recent document doing so. Check sections 65-69. Even so, you still have this idea wreaking absolute havoc on the faithful. I can almost guarantee that this kernel is at the heart of just about every modern heresy problem that we have. Why should heresy matter, as long as you don't kick puppies and help little old ladies across the street?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Prepare ye the way of the Lord

It's the Christmas season, apparently, and we are all being encouraged to spend money and buy lots of stuff. Christmas is coming, and we wouldn't want to be caught without our appetites fully satisfied. Eat! Drink! Spend!

This attitude occasionally produces real casualties, as in the case of the poor worker trampled to death during a Black Friday sale, all so that shoppers could get flat-screen HDTVs. But it always produces spiritual casualties, people who focus so much on the coming of goodies that they are unprepared for the coming of Christ.

In the ancient tradition of the Church, usually forgotten, Advent is a penitential season. We are _not_ supposed to act as we do, going from festival to festival and spending our money on presents. We are supposed to prepare for the coming of Jesus by prayer and fasting. Now, I know that Catholics are only required to fast on two days, but I don't really care what the minimums are. Are you a minimum Christian? You don't have to be. Strive to do what the Church has always recommended, that we make straight the way of the Lord.

In my Church, we are recommended to fast from the feast of St. Phillip onward, which I keep variously depending on the year. It is another Lent, a preparation for the coming of Christ. Christmas Eve is, for us, a day of strict fast and abstinence, like Good Friday. The party doesn't really begin until after Christmas, and then continues for twelve days until the feast of Theophany (Epiphany in the West). To celebrate before the event is to have it backwards. Spend the time getting ready to gain spiritual benefits from the holiday, and then rejoice in those benefits after.

Catholic Schools and Accommodating Other Religions

This is apparently being pushed in England and Wales, according to the Telegraph.

A document issued by the Catholic Education Service said facilities for other faiths should be made available in all primary and secondary schools if possible. . . The guidance said schools should consider putting aside a prayer room "if reasonably practicable" for use by staff and pupils from other faiths.

Umm . . . Why exactly should we do that?

Schools must foster race relations and religious tolerance to stop communities becoming divided.
It followed a warning from the Commission for Racial Equality that Britain's segregated schools are "a ticking time bomb waiting to explode".

So this just some sort of pre-emptive tactic because we don't think Muslims/Hindus/Jews/whoever can help but blow stuff up? What a wretched thought. If you think I'm exaggerating, check out this bit:

In a further conclusion, schools with large numbers of non-Catholic students are advised to read out "messages of goodwill" at assemblies or send them directly to parents during religious ceremonies. This includes the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu celebrations, the guidance said.

I really think this is an initiative completely motivated by fear. Of course, there's also the chance that this is just another manifestation of ecumenical madness.

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, and chairman of the Church's education board, said: "Dialogue with other faiths is a consistent theme in the life of the Catholic Church. Such dialogue is conducted in many parishes and neighbourhoods, in colleges, universities and other academic circles."

You know what's a bigger theme? Preaching the Gospel to those who don't have it. Exercising the charity to want others to know the Truth of God. Lawrence of Brindisi wasn't made a Doctor of the Church by Blessed John XXIII because he set up worship sites for non-Catholics or for facilitating their errors. St. Lawrence is most famous because he actively worked to convert these people to the True Faith. Heaven help us if we actually cared enough about people to tell them the Truth.

Oh, and one other thing about that dialogue stuff.

You explain with great clarity that an interreligious dialogue in the strict sense of the term is not possible, while you urge intercultural dialogue that develops the cultural consequences of the religious option which lies beneath. While a true dialogue is not possible about this basic option without putting one’s own faith into parentheses, it’s important in public exchange to explore the cultural consequences of these religious options.

Pope Benedict wrote that in a forward to Marcello Pera's upcoming book. Perhaps the powers pushing this agenda should check themselves for parentheses.

Monday, December 1, 2008


"A Charlie Brown Christmas" is the only Christmas special worthy of the name as it is the only such special that actually deals with the real reason for Christmas.

And whoever spawned the horrendous "Twas The Night Before Christmas" with the whiny clockmaker and the bratty mouse should be beaten.