Saturday, October 31, 2009

Night Of The Living Whores

Just wanted to get the obligatory comment out there about Halloween being the national excuse for women to publicly degrade themselves by dressing up as strumpets.

It's a weird evolution for a day's meaning. We went from All Hallows Eve to Trick or Treating to Michael Myers to something out of Hustler. Maybe it's just where I am, but it seems to me that kids getting bags of candy is almost an afterthought for Halloween now. The bulk of the ads that I've seen and heard include the word "sexy" somewhere and the images presented mostly involve women with costumes that are really just glorified lingerie.

Secularism does strange things to our traditions and culture.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Suppose You All Know Why We Called This Meeting

Rorate fills us in, just in case you didn't.

In a cordial, respectful and constructive climate, the main doctrinal questions were identified. These will be studied in the course of discussions to be held over coming months, probably twice a month. In particular, the questions due to be examined concern the concept of Tradition, the Missal of Paul VI, the interpretation of Vatican Council II in continuity with Catholic doctrinal Tradition, the themes of the unity of the Church and the Catholic principles of ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and religious freedom. The meeting also served to specify the method and organisation of the work.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Today's Gospel

Most of us probably got a homily about healing faith or what it means to truly see. Good stuff. In the midst of the reading, though, I noticed a couple of separate things that I've never really caught before.

First, there's this bit:

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Mark 10:47-48

I was thinking about some folks I know who basically refuse to pray for something more than once, thinking that repeated requests indicate a lack of faith. Bartimaeus here gives an accounting for perseverance. Even though Jesus isn't paying him any attention at that moment and with people harassing him for trying to get some face time with the Messiah, he still keeps on hollering. He clearly doesn't lack faith. In fact, his pleas show tremendous faith in that he believes he will be answered and needs no immediate response to re-assure him. He never lets despair, scruples, or whatever take over.

Second, there was this:

And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; rise, he is calling you."

Mark 10:49

This is a very "communion of saints"-ish passage. Jesus doesn't go over to the guy. He tells his people to get the guy and bring him over. Then, the people give Bartimaeus strength and encouragement to get up and move. After this pep talk, he "sprang up" to go to Jesus. Sounds like he was happy to hear the news that Jesus wanted to see him. Remember this the next time people are nagging you about the intercession of our glorified brethren.

The Spirit Of Vatican II Is A Demon That Must Be Exorcised

There's something you might not have expected to hear today. Or any other day. From anybody. Bishop Nickless didn't mind saying it, though. We've mentioned him before here. This new bit is from a pastoral letter unleashed about a week ago and reported on by the National Catholic Register.

Forty-four years after the close of the council, Bishop Nickless says there are many questions that still need to be asked and answered.“Have we understood the council within the context of the entire history of the Church? Have we understood the documents well? Have we truly appropriated and implemented them? Is the current state of the Church what the council intended? What went right? What went wrong? Where is the promised “New Pentecost”?

This last question is very significant, I think. We've been hearing about "New Pentecost," "New Springtime," "reaping abundant fruits," and so forth for about thirty years now. In contrast to what we were hearing, we saw folks defecting from the Church in huge numbers, the legitimization of dissent, rampant liturgical abuse, and a whole lot of other bad things.

Quoting from Pope Benedict XVI’s address to the Roman Curia in December 2005, Bishop Nickless draws attention to the two contrary hermeneutics that arose from the council — one which caused confusion (“a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”), and the other which has borne fruit (“hermeneutic of reform”). . .

The consequence, says Bishop Nickless, has been a sort of dualism — “an either/or mentality and insistence in various areas of the Church’s life: either fidelity to doctrine or social justice work, either Latin or English, either personal conscience or the authority of the Church, either chant or contemporary music, either tradition or progress, either liturgy or popular piety, either conservative or liberal, either Mass or adoration, either the magisterium or theologians, either ecumenism or evangelization, either rubrics or personalization, either the Baltimore Catechism or ‘experience’ ...”

Pretty big consequences from a pastoral Council that declared no new dogmas.

“There can be no split, however, between the Church and her faith before and after the council,” writes Bishop Nickless. “We must stop speaking of the ‘Pre-Vatican II’ and ‘Post-Vatican II’ Church, and stop seeing various characteristics of the Church as ‘pre’ and ‘post’ Vatican II. Only the ‘hermeneutic of reform,’ he says, is valid and “has borne and is bearing fruit.”

“The ‘spirit of Vatican II’ must be found only in the letter of the documents themselves,” writes Bishop Nickless. “The so-called ‘spirit’ of the council … is a ghost or demon that must be exorcised if we are to proceed with the Lord’s work.”

This is all good stuff. We've seen the "spirit" divorced from the "letter" plenty of times. Fr. O'Malley's gushing about having a "Vatican II president," for example. Great care should be taken, though, to avoid the trap posed by the texts themselves. Sticking with the hermeneutic of continuity is great, but the texts must be taken with that in mind and not be the starting point. Fr. Schillebeecx wasn't joking when he said that the documents were written to be re-interpreted later. They enable the "spirit" of discontinuity if this is forgotten.

What's even better is His Excellency's recommendation to all Catholics:

“In order to strengthen our devotion to Christ in the holy Eucharist and worship God rightly, we need to renounce any attachment to how we worship currently. To improve the spiritual depth of how we perform the Church’s liturgy, we will need to renounce attachment to worldly expectations and long-standing habits. To spend more time adoring Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, we need to renounce attachments to how we currently use our time,” he writes. “To deepen our intimate love for God in our hearts and heads, we need to renounce attachments to whatever is not God that is filling our hearts and heads. To live in more intentional and holy Catholic families, we need to renounce attachment to distractions, sins, and imperfections that harm our domestic churches. To accept the divine plan god has for each of us, we need to renounce attachment to our own plans. To change the world for Christ, we need to renounce attachment to how we want the world to be for ourselves.”

This is a hard saying for a lot of folks. In a nutshell, it isn't about you. It's about God. What you want in a liturgy is irrelevant. How you think the Church should worship really doesn't matter. There is a God. You aren't Him.

Here's the whole letter. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It's A Miracle! Signs Of Intelligent Life On The View!

Frankly, I figured we'd find it on Pluto first. Just goes to show you that you never can tell.

Anyways, Patrick Madrid was nice enough to post this up. I had no idea who Rachel Campos-Duffy was until seeing this. Apparently, she was on The Real World of all things. She definitely doesn't fit the profile for what I would expect for such a show but that goes equally for The View as well.

As a mother of 6, she takes a huge stand against Obama and the Moron Panel.

That look from Walters is priceless. If she was a guy, I'd say it looked like someone had kicked her in the crotch. Goldberg's complete inability to form a response, and Fake Bette Midler's avalanche of stupidity are just added bonuses.

Good job, Mrs. Campos-Duffy. Too bad this means you'll probably never get your own show.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Catholic Haterade (with a side of Hater-Tots)

My colleague Karl has often asked (and I have echoed his concerns here) how long it will be before Catholicism is regarded as a hate crime.

Deacon Fournier takes up this issue in his article here.

The topic of Dr. Hudson’s article was recent “Hate Crimes” legislation which includes those who engage in homosexual behavior as a “protected class” in the very same manner as it includes gender and race. Some are concerned over where this legislation could lead. Others take comfort in language found within the legislation which seeks to protect people with “religious positions”. It is here where I raise the concern that a "two step" may be underway. If unchecked, the trends emerging could have the effect of censoring our right to contend in the Public Square. Here is how it happens. First, those who oppose our positions on matters such as the Right to Life for every human being from conception to natural death and the normative nature of the two parent, marriage bound family will relegate our truth claims to simply being "religious positions." Then they will require that these truth claims be confined to expression only within our Church Walls or we will face the Police power of the State. . .

The real possibility looms that today's Catholic positions on these matters of importance for all men and women, including those of other faiths or no faith at all, will be censored from the public debate or, worse yet, made the subject of a new form of censorship. We need to remember history. The early Christians were not persecuted for "religion" but as "enemies of the State" and for "hatred of the human race". In 1999, Evangelical Protestant theologian, Harold O.J. Brown of the Howard Center for the Family, Religion and Society noted a "similarity between the way the Roman authorities charged Christians of that era with "odium humani generis" [hatred of the human race] and the way the political and media establishment charge contemporary Christians with creating a "climate of hate."

Make sure you read the whole thing without retreating into the idea of "that could never happen here." Try to consider the reasons why it couldn't happen here. Are they really reasons at all?

I'm sure a lot of French folk had similar reasons back in 1789.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Archbishop Burke Is All Over The Place

First, we find out from Rocco Palma that he's been named to the Congregation for Bishops.

Earlier today, B16 named the church's "chief justice" Archbishop Raymond Burke to the membership of the Congregation for Bishops, giving the 61 year-old prelate a seat at the dicastery's all-important Thursday Table, whose votes recommend prospective appointees to the Pope.

Did you read that last part? An American who is a staunch defender of orthodoxy now has a place in vetting new bishops. The awesomeness is overwhelming. In case you don't recall, Archbishop Burke, canon lawyer par excellence, has been highly vocal in his insistence that pro-abortion politicians be denied the Eucharist. One would think he'd be looking for like-minded folks.

Though it can only be gauged with time, the emergence of a potential -- and potentially significant -- "Burke effect" on Stateside appointments bears watching.

Let's not worry about degree right now. Let's just be glad that we can at least assume an effect of some sort.

On a side note, and just as good news:

Also named to Bishops this morning was the Vatican's "Worship Czar," the Spanish Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, whose longstanding ties to Pope Benedict have seen him dubbed the Ratzingerino, or "Little Ratzinger."

But back to Archbishop Burke.

Even with this appointment, he still had time to celebrate a Pontifical High Mass at St. Peter's in Rome. Per CNS:

The Gregorian chant of the Tridentine Mass filled the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of St. Peter's Basilica Oct. 18 as U.S. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, head of the Vatican's highest court, celebrated a pontifical high Mass.

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, said in a statement Oct. 19, "The Mass represented an extraordinary event, an event authorized on the occasion of the conference."

The cardinal declined further comment, but another Vatican official said the Mass probably was the first pontifical high Mass using the 1962 rite to be celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica in almost 40 years.

Forty years since we had one of these. Almost criminal.

Anyways, it's all very good news. We have to assume at this point that +Burke is in line for a red hat at the next consistory. After that, who knows?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Anglicans Are Coming!

Thanks to Rocco Palma over at Whispers for this report, which is pretty much everywhere by now.

Basically, the Vatican has paved the road for the Anglicans to start converting. This has been a long time coming. What was needed was a viable structure to support such a large number of folks and for Cardinal Kaspar to get out of the way. Once this was turned over to Cardinal Levada and the CDF, it was safe to call it a done deal.

According to an unusually well-crafted CDF statement detailing the plans, the unnamed Constitution -- to be signed by Pope Benedict -- will see "pastoral oversight and guidance [being] provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy."

While the ordination of married former Anglican clergy has become relatively commonplace since the Pastoral Provision was instituted in 1980, the Vatican note re-drew the line at the prospect of married bishops; "historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches," the release said. "The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop."

If you ask me, this last is especially important, as it shows that the Vatican has its limits when it comes to accepting innovation for the purpose of ecumenism. I think the Pastoral Provision is a good idea for these sorts of cases, but married bishops just isn't going to work. In fact, since we're being all ecumenical here, it would probably set up another issue for the Orthodox to gripe about.

What's more, though the Holy See aimed to compare the new ordinariates to the national diocesan structures overseeing a country's military forces, the case at hand appears to hearken more closely to the Eastern churches in full communion in light of the arrangement's maintenance of a distinct liturgical custom and the provision for its oversight by a free-standing ecclesial authority drawn from said community. In other words, though the terminology was likely chosen to keep ecumenical headaches at a minimum, the de facto result of the move is an Anglican Rite within the Roman Communion. Like the military churches, however, the structures will ostensibly be nation-wide, established after consultation with the episcopal conferences.

Reading the CDF bulletin and the other stories on this, I think the description of a full-blown Anglican Rite, rather than just Anglican Use parishes, is accurate. I still haven't been to an Anglican Use liturgy. This should make it easier. On top of that, and while I'm sure it's happening, I sincerely hope that the converts are being vetted in all this. If they aren't going all-in, it's best to just drop the whole thing.

Finally, we should probably mention Rowan:

Underscoring the move's potential impact on both churches -- and showing an unusual degree of coordination, both in terms of rollout strategy and ecumenical cooperation -- a joint statement on the new protocol from Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and the Anglican Communion's head, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, was included in this morning's Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office.

In their message, the twin primates saw the development as a fruit "of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion."

How humiliating is this? The guy has to call a press conference and basically chime in about how he's helping all these Anglicans not be Anglican anymore. I'm sure he's known this was coming for a while, but geez. That's a big freaking grenade to fall on.

You can probably stick a fork in Rowan, now. He's done like dinner. I would imagine that Schori and Co. will come out of the woodwork to labaste him for [a] greasing the rails to get these folks out (even though they've been clamoring to get rid of them anyway) and [b] presiding over the ongoing collapse of the Anglican Communion (as if their hands were clean and it was remotely avoidable in the first place).

Yep. All in all, a pretty annus horribilis for the Anglicans. Good for us and for these sojourning souls, though.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bishop Vs. Bishop

Here's something you don't see every day. Bishop Sample of Marquette, a young prelate we've mentioned before, has told Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit, an older retired prelate with a reputation for whackjobbery and dissent, to stay out of his diocese.

LifeSiteNews with the story:

Marquette Bishop Alexander K. Sample, 49-years-old and one of the youngest US Catholic bishops, recently banned Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, 79, a retired auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit and notorious promoter of homosexuality, contraception, and homosexual and women's ordination, from entering and speaking in his diocese, citing his pastoral duty to defend the "faith and morals" of the Catholic Church. The controversial bishop was set to address the group Marquette Citizens for Peace and Justice.

This is pretty huge, I think. Public confrontation is probably not the best of all worlds, and indications are that Sample tried to keep the situation quiet, it's high time that our shepherds take responsibility for their flocks and put the cuffs on those who would injure the unity of the Church. That's what His Excellency is doing here.

"Given Bishop Gumbleton's very public position on certain important matters of Catholic teaching, specifically with regard to homosexuality and the ordination of women to the priesthood, it was my judgment that his presence in Marquette would not be helpful to me in fulfilling my responsibility."

The elder prelate, who once held the title of Vicar General of Detroit, counts himself as a member of radical heterodox groups such as New Ways Ministry and Call to Action, both of which have been censured by the Vatican for moral and doctrinal reasons, especially over the promotion of homosexual behavior as a valid normative lifestyle. Members of Call to Action are also excommunicated in one US diocese and the group agitates for contraception, abortion, divorce and remarriage, and change in the governmental structure of the Church.

Not only that, but this isn't +Gumbleton's first rodeo with exclusion:

In 2007, bishop Gerald F. Kicanas banned Gumbleton from entering his jurisdiction after he discovered that Call to Action had arranged for him to speak at Catholic churches and schools in the diocese.

I wonder how many other cases like this I've missed out on. Given the hierarchical demographics in the US, another decade or so might see guys like +Sample as the rule. The USCCB might become an arm of orthodoxy. What a weird situation that would be to see our shepherds united for the good of the Church, rather than scattered by the winds of political correctness. More than a few folks tagged the Obama situation as a turning point. Maybe that's emboldened guys to speak out more. I don't know.

Whatever it is, let's hope it is contagious.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The King James Bible: If It Was Good Enough For Jesus, It's Good Enough For Me

It's funny because it's true. If you don't believe me, just ask Marc Grizzard of the Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina. He and his flock will be hosting a book burning on Halloween that will prominently feature a whole bunch of non-KJV Bibles.

Per the Telegraph:

Marc Grizzard, of Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina, says that the first King James translation of the Bible is the only true declaration of God’s word, and that all others are “satanic”.

Pastor Grizzard and 14 other members of the church plan to burn copies of the other “perversions” of Scripture on Halloween, 31 October.

The New Revised Version Bible, the American Standard Version Bible, and even the New King James Version are all pronounced to be works of the Devil by Pastor Grizzard and his followers.

Pastor Grizzard said: “I believe the King James version is God’s preserved, inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God… for English-speaking people."

The King James-only movement has fascinated me for a long time, mostly because I know some of these folks. It would make for a remarkable psychological case study for examining the ability of people to believe absolute fiction without any real proof at all. You ask a King Jameser why the KJV is the only legit translation of the Bible, and all they can really say is that it is and everybody knows that.

On a side note, I realize that a lot of folks in this camp aren't there because they see the KJV as especially protected by the Almighty. They just like King James Bibles. I'm not talking about those people. I'm talking about the folks who think that the King James translation has the Hand of Providence behind it and above it, making sure that nobody screws it up because it's the Bible how God really wanted it.

Naturally, there's nothing in the Bible that indicates King James's translation would be the Divine Standard, which makes for an interesting conundrum for your average sola scripturist. Not only that, and this is my favorite question, why is English the only language that gets its own translation right from God? Does the translator fairy dust carry over to Swahili translations of the KJV? Nobody on the KJV side really cares, and I guess it serves all those lousy foreigners right anyhow for not being able to speak God's Chosen Language.

Moving along, though, to some of Mr. Grizzard's other material.

As well as inappropriate translations from the original Hebrew and Aramaic, the pastor and his associates will be burning books by various Christian authors, as well as music of every genre.

Anybody who burns Rick Warren's books can't be all bad, right?

Mother Teresa is also on the list of Satanic authors.

Ok, maybe so then.

One Week From Today

The doctrinal talks between the SSPX and the Vatican kick off on the 26th. The Vatican team consists of a Dominican, a Jesuit, and a guy from Opus Dei. You can get all their info from Rorate Caeli. Most interesting, though, is the stuff from an interview with Bishop Fellay, also from Rorate. Lots of outlets have been giving reports on the talks with a lot of negative spin, much of it emanating from Cardinal Schonborn of all people, who isn't even involved in the discussions.

Anyways, Bishop Fellay's attitude seems pretty good, if you ask me. Consider:

With the lifting of the decree of excommunication, the doctrinal discussions will be taking place between Rome and the Fraternity of St. Pius X. What is the goal of these discussions?

The goal that we wish to achieve with these doctrinal discussions is an important clarification in the teaching of the Church in recent years. Indeed, the Fraternity Saint Pius X, in union with its founder, Archbishop Lefebvre, had serious objections to the Second Vatican Council and we hope that the discussions will help to dispel the errors or the severe ambiguities that have since been spread with full hands throughout the Catholic Church, as John Paul II himself recognized.

No talk of revocation or repealing the Council. He's pretty clear that what is needed is clarification. What sort of clarifications? He actually gives an example further on down and throws some compliments Pope Benedict's way at the same time:

Collegiality has been a disaster for the Church. Can we not see in spite of everything, a slight "crack in the wall of collegiality" with the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict XVI and more recently with the withdrawal of the decree of excommunication?

Indeed, these decisions are really his. There is a way to correctly understand true collegiality. Paul VI added a "preliminary note" to the document on the Church, Lumen Gentium, that collegiality is to be understood properly. The problem is that this note seems to be forgotten. The general idea that has been propagated and that falsely reduces significantly the powers of the sovereign pontiff is a real danger to the Church and makes governing it impossible. Thus, the various acts of the Pope given "motu proprio" are good signs of a willingness to govern the Church personally and not corporately.

And the crux of the matter:

For the first time in 40 years we see the supreme authority of the Church recognize that there are problems both theological and doctrinal. Does the Pope not realize that the "conciliar church" (to use the words of Cardinal Benelli), and its reforms are doomed and that a return to tradition is necessary?

I'm not sure everyone sees the doctrinal discussions in that way. I would say that for most of the hierarchy these discussions are necessary, not for the Church, but for us and our "return to full communion" to adopt the new ways. In fact, I feel that we are facing a very delicate situation. The reality of the crisis is acknowledged, but not the remedies. We say, and it is proven by the facts, that the solution to the crisis is a return to the past. Benedict XVI said the same thing: He emphasizes the importance of not breaking with the past (the hermeneutic of continuity), but he maintains the improvisations of the council as though they are not a break with this past. According to him the only ones which are wrong and break with the past are those which go beyond the council. It is a very sensitive issue.

As long as +Fellay continues to mirror Pope Benedict's language and frame the issues this way, I will remain optimistic about these discussions. The issues with Vatican II will be out in the open now. Everyone acknowledges there are doctrinal problems. Both sides are promoting "return to the past." Vatican II as "superdogma" should be pulled from the ecclesial worldview altogether. Positives all the way around, I think.

Let us pray for a successful outcome for all this.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Europe Is Terminally Ill

Not from the Plague this time, more from the tendency of evil towards self-annihilation. Self-annihilation, you may ask, where does that come from? When you think of the classical take on evil as privation and lack of being, and understand evil's goal to propagate itself at the expense of the good, it becomes clear. The goal of the evil is the destruction of everything, including the evil-doer. Even if he/she doesn't realize it, that's where the whole game is going. John Damascene (I think) brought this up somewhere when he was analyzing the story of Jesus driving the demons into the herd of pigs.

And the unclean spirits going out, entered into the swine: and the herd with great violence was carried headlong into the sea, being about two thousand, were stifled in the sea.

Mark 5:13

That's right. They committed suicide. Getting back to the direct point here, Europe is going all-in now that Spain has sold out to the culture of death.

This per Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Tarazona, Spain. CNA has the story. Since Spain has decided to destroy itself by legalizing infanticide, His Excellency has reminded us all of the typical results of this sort of madness. Welcome to the "continent of death."

He pointed out that since the legalization of abortion, “some 50 million children were not born, who would today be 50 million young people,” which Europe needs desperately as the population “is prematurely aging and is dying of sadness and despair.”

Too bad so many folks don't give a crap.

The bishop warned that the Spanish government’s new law on abortion would “multiply the number of those who are not going to be born,” since it would make abortion a right protected by a false freedom and would lead to women doing “violence against their own bodies.”

He warned that with the new law women would pay the price for situations in which perhaps they are the least to blame. “Once again, the feminist cry for freedom for the dignity of women is drowned out by dispositions to turn them into simple objects of passing and irresponsible pleasure."

If you aren't too young, you might be able to remember a time when the ability to create and nourish life was regarded as one of the highest callings. Clearly, though, it doesn't take long for this vocation to be subordinated to the calling to sacrifice one's child on the altar of convenience. Ah yes. Therein lies true dignity.

Let's face it. It is empowering. Holding the decision of life or death over another is a frightful thing, especially when it's abused to the tune of millions of deaths a year.

Where are Ferdinand and Isabella when you need them?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Forget It, Throwback. It's Chinatown.

At least with the Michael Jackson stuff, there was a nanometer sliver of a chance that nothing bad happened. You can't really say that with Roman Polanski. Yet the reactions are similar. In the wake of Jackson's death, everyone attempted to mitigate his wrongdoings. For Polanski, you have an extremely broad section of folks from Hollywood on down explaining why sodomizing a child after you've doped her up isn't all that bad.

What the hell is all this? When did we need a legal sliderule to work out whether or not a child molester needed to be punished for his crimes?

I mean, the guy made some good movies and all, but I'm not really sure why that makes rape ok. Does that mean that crap like The 9th Gate is admissible as evidence in favor of his prosecution? The next Oscar show will probably be especially nausea-inducing. I'm sure there will be something like 5 million shows of support for Polanski, maybe even his own montage, while simultaneously lecturing the world on morality, ethics, and responsibility.

Final queries. What if Polanski wasn't a famous director but a priest instead? What would the reaction be like for himself and those who so publicly defend him?

Just asking.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And Yet Another Reason Why Contraception Sucks

It makes women want to engage in the nuptial act with losers.

Don't take my word for it, check out the latest super-duper-scientific study. Or use your common sense. To begin, let's go with the former.

"The use of the pill by women, by changing her mate preferences, might induce women to mate with otherwise less-preferred partners, which might have important consequences for mate choice and reproductive outcomes," said Alexandra Alvergne, lead author of a study appearing in the October issue of Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

No freaking way!

Let me translate. If a woman can do it with a guy and not have to worry about getting pregnant, she's going to be ok doing it with guys who might be worthless because she doesn't have to worry about what kind of father he's going to be.

We needed a bunch of scientists to tell us this? You can't just check out your average college campus and figure out that, generally speaking, women on birth control are less choosy as to who they have sex with than those who aren't?

You don't even have to get to discussion of unitive/procreative to reach this conclusion. If you take away the consequences of a specific behavior, which in this case is the negative perception accorded to human life, it's a safe bet that said behavior will be exhibited with less restraint and discernment.

Even Richard Dawkins could probably get on board with this argument.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On Willful Misunderstanding, by David Bentley Hart

I came across this quote from Hart, an orthodox theologian you should read, in "The Hidden and the Manifest: Metaphysics after Nicea" in the wonderful Orthodox Readings of Augustine, St. Vladimir's seminary press:

In any modern engagement between Christian East and Christian West, we begin from the long history of an often militant refusal--on both sides--of intellectual reconciliation. . . . All too often, moreover, this incomprehension takes the depressing form of a simple and a deplorable failure of imagination: an inability to appreciate that, in order to understand another intellectual tradition, rooted in a different primary language, it is not enough to translate its terms into one's own dialect and then proceed to interpret them according to the rules of one's one tradition. And the consequence of this is that, as often as not, "ecumenism" between East and West consists in little more than a relentless syncope of category errors: the drearily predictable alarm and indignation with which traditional Thomists find that Gregory Palamas, transposed into Thomas' Latin, is not a Thomis; the deep and slightly macabre delight with which earnest Palamites discover that Thomas, read through Palamite lenses, proves to be no Palamite.

I have encountered this willful misunderstanding myself, where shallow thinkers focus on a term extracted from a tradition, misinterpret it, or interpret it on purpose in the worst light, and then reject the tradition from which it comes as a heresy. This is not to say that genuine differences don't exist between East and West, or between Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians, but in wading through the polemics, one often finds that most of the differences are in approach. It's like New York pizza versus Chicago style: both are pizza, but approached differently, the one emphasizing the goodness of sauce and cheese, the other focusing on the crust.

Anyway, go read David Bentley Hart. It's a rollercoaster of erudition.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Victory At Lepanto

Thou art beautiful and comely, O Daughter of Zion, terrible as an army set in array.

Chesterton's take on this macro-historic event is always worth reading:

White founts falling in the Courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard;
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips;
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.

Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young.
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
Stiff flags straining in the night-blasts cold
In the gloom black-purple, in the glint old-gold,
Torchlight crimson on the copper kettle-drums,
Then the tuckets, then the trumpets, then the cannon, and he comes.
Don John laughing in the brave beard curled,
Spurning of his stirrups like the thrones of all the world,
Holding his head up for a flag of all the free.
Love-light of Spain--hurrah!
Death-light of Africa!
Don John of Austria
Is riding to the sea.

Mahound is in his paradise above the evening star,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
He moves a mighty turban on the timeless houri's knees,
His turban that is woven of the sunsets and the seas.
He shakes the peacock gardens as he rises from his ease,
And he strides among the tree-tops and is taller than the trees;
And his voice through all the garden is a thunder sent to bring
Black Azrael and Ariel and Ammon on the wing.
Giants and the Genii,
Multiplex of wing and eye,
Whose strong obedience broke the sky
When Solomon was king.

They rush in red and purple from the red clouds of the morn,
From the temples where the yellow gods shut up their eyes in scorn;
They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be,
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl;
They swell in sapphire smoke out of the blue cracks of the ground,--
They gather and they wonder and give worship to Mahound.
And he saith, "Break up the mountains where the hermit-folk can hide,
And sift the red and silver sands lest bone of saint abide,
And chase the Giaours flying night and day, not giving rest,
For that which was our trouble comes again out of the west.
We have set the seal of Solomon on all things under sun,
Of knowledge and of sorrow and endurance of things done.
But a noise is in the mountains, in the mountains, and I know
The voice that shook our palaces--four hundred years ago:
It is he that saith not 'Kismet'; it is he that knows not Fate;
It is Richard, it is Raymond, it is Godfrey at the gate!
It is he whose loss is laughter when he counts the wager worth,
Put down your feet upon him, that our peace be on the earth."
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Sudden and still--hurrah!
Bolt from Iberia!
Don John of Austria
Is gone by Alcalar.

St. Michaels on his Mountain in the sea-roads of the north
(Don John of Austria is girt and going forth.)
Where the grey seas glitter and the sharp tides shift
And the sea-folk labour and the red sails lift.
He shakes his lance of iron and he claps his wings of stone;
The noise is gone through Normandy; the noise is gone alone;
The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes,
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,--
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.
Don John calling through the blast and the eclipse
Crying with the trumpet, with the trumpet of his lips,
Trumpet that sayeth ha!
Domino gloria!
Don John of Austria
Is shouting to the ships.

King Philip's in his closet with the Fleece about his neck
(Don John of Austria is armed upon the deck.)
The walls are hung with velvet that is black and soft as sin,
And little dwarfs creep out of it and little dwarfs creep in.
He holds a crystal phial that has colours like the moon,
He touches, and it tingles, and he trembles very soon,
And his face is as a fungus of a leprous white and grey
Like plants in the high houses that are shuttered from the day,
And death is in the phial and the end of noble work,
But Don John of Austria has fired upon the Turk.
Don John's hunting, and his hounds have bayed--
Booms away past Italy the rumour of his raid.
Gun upon gun, ha! ha!
Gun upon gun, hurrah!
Don John of Austria
Has loosed the cannonade.

The Pope was in his chapel before day or battle broke,
(Don John of Austria is hidden in the smoke.)
The hidden room in man's house where God sits all the year,
The secret window whence the world looks small and very dear.
He sees as in a mirror on the monstrous twilight sea
The crescent of his cruel ships whose name is mystery;
They fling great shadows foe-wards, making Cross and Castle dark,
They veil the plumèd lions on the galleys of St. Mark;
And above the ships are palaces of brown, black-bearded chiefs,
And below the ships are prisons, where with multitudinous griefs,
Christian captives sick and sunless, all a labouring race repines
Like a race in sunken cities, like a nation in the mines.
They are lost like slaves that sweat, and in the skies of morning hung
The stair-ways of the tallest gods when tyranny was young.
They are countless, voiceless, hopeless as those fallen or fleeing on
Before the high Kings' horses in the granite of Babylon.
And many a one grows witless in his quiet room in hell
Where a yellow face looks inward through the lattice of his cell,
And he finds his God forgotten, and he seeks no more a sign--
(But Don John of Austria has burst the battle-line!)
Don John pounding from the slaughter-painted poop,
Purpling all the ocean like a bloody pirate's sloop,
Scarlet running over on the silvers and the golds,
Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.

Vivat Hispania!
Domino Gloria!
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!

Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath
(Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade....
(But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Meaning of Essence in Aquinas

In Palamite debates with the Roman Church, much is made over Aquinas' statement that the true goal of human life is to see the essence of God. They argue, according to their tradition, that no-one ever sees the essence of God, but rather only his uncreated energies. This looks like a clear difference between churches, but is it?

The word for "essence" in Latin is essentia. The word for "essence" in Greek is ousia. Really, then, Aquinas says that one sees the essentia of God, but Palamas says that one does not see the ousia of God. Perhaps they don't mean the same thing.

I came across a very succinct definition of essentia in I.28.2 ST: "Everything which is not the divine essence is a creature."^[omnis res quae non est divina essentia, est creatura.] So, if St. Gregory Palamas teaches that the ousia is uncreated as well as the energeia, then both would count as the essentia of God according to Aquinas' terminology. There is a way they can both be right: To see the uncreated energies of God is to see the essentia of God.

It's a matter of language, then, not doctrine.

Incidentally, one can find the Summa Theologica as an audiobook on the wonderful

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Let Me Tell You About A Priest

He arrived in this country from Ireland over half a century ago, recruited directly from his seminary by the bishop due to the shortage of priests (yes, some places had a shortage even in the 50s). He was the spiritual father of our parish for over three decades. I was only old enough to have been there for one of them.

Until very recently, my father was a Southern Baptist. While he is the greatest man I've ever known and did everything in his power to teach me to be a good man (which I hope I am doing), there wasn't a whole lot he could do to help me be a good, Catholic man. This was the purview of our priest, and I could not have had a better instructor.

He gave catechetical instruction to adult converts and kids alike. I still recall him making time to go through the entire Parvuli Dei manual with the few of us Cub Scouts who were Catholic just to be sure we had all our questions answered.

Lesson #1: The whole parish knew that nothing was more important than the Truth because our priest told us this every chance he got. I doubt he had a single homily that didn't mention this at least twice. Naturally, this made him unpopular with some people. It also grew our parish in the community. When he left, our church was 75% converts.

Lesson #2: Whether you were Catholic or Protestant or whatever, the Mass is the most important event on the face of the planet. That means that Catholics should be in awe of it, and non-Catholics must refrain from the Eucharist to avoid a desecration.

He was known by everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE. He was never seen without his collar, whether it was at the high school football games or working and sweating in the church yard and gardens for hours during the summer. Mostly, he was known as an exuberant, joyful, and holy man. A lot of those converts I mentioned were initially won over in casual conversation.

He was, and still is, an Augustinian. Our whole parish probably knew Confessions and City of God by heart. Everything he said and did exuded man's absolute dependence on God and the need for all to recognize the supernatural order as our primary concern.

Even through persecution, he was our guide. When a local Protestant group essentially declared war on our parish, he never once flinched. When signs reading "Pray for these lost souls" were being posted bearing the names of our youth, he openly confronted the issue even unto the pulpit. When we were being told by some of our long-time friends that they couldn't play with us anymore because we were Catholic, he carved time out of our Catechism courses to address the issue with us and drive home the apologetic tools we would need to defend, not ourselves really, but the Mystical Body of Christ.

Finally, I think the most palpable lesson he taught us was the utter and complete revulsion of sin. Sin is abhorrent. It is an offense to God. Mortal sin makes you worthy of one thing, and that's hell. Nobody ever really wondered if this was appropriate material for young people. It was accepted. I can only imagine how this would carry in most modern parishes. Probably not so well.

I learned about a week ago that this wonderful worker in the Lord's vineyard is retiring (even though he started this retirement by offering six Masses in one weekend for fellow priests who needed assistance). I am greatly saddened by this. Not really sure how to take it. Sometimes, it seems that there are so few good priests in the world. It's a shame to lose even one, for any reason. When it's the holiest guy I've ever known; the priest who formed my Catholic views for my whole life; who married my parents; baptized me, my sister, and two of my children; practically built the parish I currently attend; and played a role in the salvation of God only knows how many souls just in my short lifetime, I am truly staggered.

Enjoy retirement, Father. You have earned your rest. I know I have a small readership here, but if you have a moment, please pray for this good and holy man.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Another Reason Contraception Sucks

It is wrecking my ability to form functional relationships with my kids' friends' parents. When I was growing up, my parents and my friends' parents were all basically the same age. As a result, they tended to be good to great friends with these people.

I am now in my early 30s. I have noticed that, almost without exception, the kids who are friends with my own children all have parents who are in their mid-40s and sometimes early 50s. As a result, I find it very difficult to relate to a lot of these folks and vice versa. This has been the case in all three locales where we've lived since my wife and I were first married.

Don't get me wrong. These are all very nice and pleasant people. There's just a generation gap that's hard to bridge and it makes things weird on at least a semi-regular basis.

Where are all the young(er) parents?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What Would Tertullian Say?

I'm a big fan of Tertullian. Sure, he sort of lost his mind towards the end of his life and went all Montanist. He was a huge asset to the Church before then, though, and we should all hope for his salvation.

The best part about Tertullian is that his style is well suited for disputation. He has no difficulty whatsoever in calling a spade a spade. I was thinking about this recently in my continued interior rant against that horrendous joke that places the One True Church founded by God Himself on the same level as, say, Benny Hinn's congregation.

Anyways, amidst all this, I am confronted with certain aspects of non-Catholic beliefs that I simply cannot abide. Among these is the idea of sola scriptura. Folks quoting the Bible to you and then ignoring Biblical responses on the grounds that they "know better" or because "the Catholic Church added books later" or simply denying that certain Bible passages exist altogether (eg- Romans 2:6 that God will render to man according to his works) just all gets really old after a while.

Tertullian actually responds to this sort of issue in his Prescription Against the Heretics:

Since this is the case, in order that the truth may be adjudged to belong to us, “as many as walk according to the rule,” which the church has handed down from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, and Christ from God, the reason of our position is clear, when it determines that heretics ought not to be allowed to challenge an appeal to the Scriptures, since we, without the Scriptures, prove that they have nothing to do with the Scriptures. For as they are heretics, they cannot be true Christians, because it is not from Christ that they get that which they pursue of their own mere choice, and from the pursuit incur and admit the name of heretics.

Thus, not being Christians, they have acquired no right to the Christian Scriptures; and it may be very fairly said to them, “Who are you?"

It's a pretty sweet shpiel, I think, and clearly illustrates the authority of the Church and why bandying verses about really does no good. Anybody can whip up their own exegesis of a passage. The issue is which is the correct one, which can only be discerned in the mind of the Church.

Of course, Jesus cares about none of this Truth business. He's just around to watch the game.