Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Real Horror Of October 31

When most folks think of today, they probably come up with an image of this guy:

Nothing wrong with that. He's way better than Freddy or Jason or the fake that got served up to us post-Halloween 6. Plus, Dr. Sam Loomis rules.

That being said, the guy folks should be thinking of is:

In case you didn't recognize him, that's Martin Luther, who was probably just a couple of steps more sane than Michael Myers. Or maybe even less sane, considering that you never really thought of Myers as crazy, just really freaking evil.

What does Luther have to do with Halloween? It was on this day 493 years ago that he allegedly nailed the 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg. The rest is history. The consequences that flowed from Luther's arrogance are way scarier than any horror movie. The shattering of Christendom, multiple wars, the eventual rise of the "Enlightenment" (yeah, I know; it would have happened anyway), not to mention the millions of souls that were jeopardized by his heresy and schism, along with the continued deterioration of Christianity as more and more schisms and heresies are born every day and new ecclesial groups started to manifest them.

You want terror? Try turning on your TV and seeing this:

In the beginning, there was Luther. A few centuries of theological begats later, we have this.

Thanks, Martin. Thanks a lot.

You can find some of Luther's documented flights from sanity in this old post. It's not Daphne du Maurier, but it can chill the spine a bit.

Sleep tight.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The En Banc Ninth Circuit Upholds Condemnation Of Catholicism

We've talked about this before. The issue is this resolution passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. It was a reaction to Cardinal Levada and the CDF voicing opposition to homosexual adoptions based on *gasp* Catholic teaching.

The resolution described the CDF's elucidation of Catholic teaching as everything from "ignorant" to "callous" to "insulting."

I wonder if they would say such things about Jewish or Muslim teachings.

A majority of the Ninth Circuit has decided that this kind of attack on religion is ok. Granted, it's for a variety of reasons. A few said that the Supervisors were perfectly within their rights to do what they did. A few more said that the Catholic League didn't have the standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place. Add them up and you get the majority opinion on the Court.

The CalCatholic Daily article is a good recap of things. For any masochists, you can read the full opinion here.

This would be, I think, another indication of the "long defeat" that Atticus mentioned in one of our prior entries. More than that, it shows the envelope getting pushed a little bit further. Is it really that big a leap from this to the Elizabethan oaths against transubstantiation? One of the judges in the case specifically mentions such a point as where the line would be drawn, but you'll have to excuse me if I take little solace in that. At one point, abortion and contraception could be prohibited as well, and nobody foresaw their ever being permissible in civilized society. We got "enlightened" enough to change that.

What will happen when we reach such a level of sophistication that we'll be able to say that Catholic morality is a danger to the state and must be suppressed?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bishop Soto Contra Contraception

Bishop Soto of Sacramento has been a topic here before, mostly for being courageous enough to explain the Church's teaching on homosexuality to homosexuals. His latest foray is in the Catholic Herald by way of the California Catholic Daily. Basically, he says that contraceptionhas become the norm and that the norm is bad. This strikes me as a big deal for a guy from California.

“In the heated, partisan passions wrestling for political advantage in the trench warfare of abortion, we have to change hearts; as well as change laws,” wrote Bishop Soto. “Creating that culture of life is more than a political agenda. The gospel of life has the power to transform hearts and habits as well as laws when the Christian follows Newman’s counsel and performs ‘the ordinary duties of the day well.’”

Bishop Soto says we can “round our days” by observing routines in our lives that serve to sanctify us and evangelize others. Wearing one’s wedding ring or conversations around the dinner table with family are simple examples of this practice, he wrote, but they also include participation in the political process and more reflection and the cultivation of new habits “in the sexual practice of marriage.”

“One habit that has taken hold of many marriages is the use of artificial means of contraception,” wrote Bishop Soto. “The prevalence of the practice in and outside of the Catholic community has made contraception the unquestioned default mode of marriage. As a consequence, sexuality and relationships are misunderstood and misused; and their true purpose is misplaced.”

This all dovetails well with the prior item from Mrs. Fulwiler. It's not just the individual sinful act that causes damage. It's the habituation to sin and the regularization of such behavior screwing up people's mindsets and damaging their consciences that is even worse, as it leads to the propagation of still more and worse sin.

“These comments are not just about the ‘pill’ or other forms of contraceptives,” the bishop continued. “This is more about the habit of using artificial means. The habit has shaped the hearts and minds of many, especially the young. Marriage is no longer understood as the covenant of love between a man and a woman that creates life, because procreation is no longer associated with sexual intercourse. In this new social situation, many shrug their shoulders and wonder why a sexual relationship between any two people who care for each other cannot be called a marriage.”

“The church’s teaching against the use of artificial contraceptives comes from a reverential awe for the ‘round’ of the marriage covenant, where the human family finds life, grace and goodness revealed in the ordinary rituals of the home,” said Bishop Soto. “The sexual ritual should not be discounted or dismissed from this sacramental view.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

"The President's Nun"

That's the title of a recent article in the American Spectator. I suppose that it's only fitting that the Vatican II president should have his own nun.

Let me try to summarize the background here as much as possible. Some Catholic hospitals in Scranton, PA are going to be sold to some non-Catholic health systems. The CEO of Mercy Health Systems (Catholic group) initially said that the passage of the Obama health care legislation played a role in the decision to make the sale.

Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, immediately attacked this and every other report that tried to tie Obamacare to the hospital sales.

Why such a reaction, the Spectator asks. The answers are kind of depressing.

Let's go back to that presidential signing of the health care reform law. There were 21 very powerful people in that little group who received signing pens from the President. As mentioned that included the Vice President, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy's widow Victoria Reggie Kennedy. And someone else.

That would be Sister Carol Keehan.

Impressive, no? The Catholic News Agency thought so, and prominently noted the story here. It also noted that Sister Carol was receiving her presidential pen from the President himself because she had been "supporting health care despite bishops' objections." The story even pictured the pen itself alongside the presidential seal on the box in which it came, with "Barack Obama" clearly visible scrawled along the side. Meaning, Sister Carol had enough clout to take on the Catholic Bishops on the President's behalf -- and win.

Does the name Bart Stupak ring a bell? The much ballyhooed pro-life Democrat Congressman from Michigan? The Catholic Congressman Bart Stupak who was said to be such a sturdy obstacle to passage of ObamaCare because it would allow abortions? In the aftermath of the ObamaCare passage, Slate came forward to note that a letter signed by "representatives" of Catholic nuns finally swayed Stupak to break his staunch anti-abortion pledge and sign on for ObamaCare with a simple promise of an executive order on abortion, executive orders being overturned by successor presidents with the rapidity of rabbits doing the breeding thing. Wait! Stupak was persuaded by Catholic nuns? Isn't Sister Carol a …nun? How about that? What a coincidence? Yes indeed, the letter in question was signed -- solo -- by Sister Carol.

In other words, pay no attention to the dead babies.

I wonder what Bishop Martino would say if he was still around. Something profoundly and necessarily harsh, I think. One would hope something like this:

Combine all this with election-year jockeying by pro-Obamacare Democrats in a Catholic district who now have to deal with the issue of Catholic hospitals being delivered into the hands of facilities with no moral qualms about the slaughter of innocents, and it all turns into a horrible example of the disasterous downstream consequences of not punishing dissidents. I know all about the wheat and tares. I also know that, historically speaking, it seems like the anathema has a much better track record of fixing things than dialogue or just ignoring stuff.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Spiritual Revolutions

I've had to reflect much lately on the subjectof conversion. It's not just because of stuff like the recent Newman beatification either. In a more personal sense, I've been seeing a lot of people moving in and out of the Church. It's been a lesson in how fragile a thing one's beliefs can be. For example, you encounter cradle Catholics who have come up under the tutelage of very orthodox priests and caring parents abandoning the Faith in favor of milquetoast indifferentism.

On the other hand, you've got committed atheists or various varieties of heretics shedding their errors to take up the Cross instead.

What all this goes to show us is that we should never presume the fidelity anyone, nor should we consider anyone to be beyond God's grace.

As an exhibit of this latter thing, here is a wonderful article from America Magazine (yeah, I know; go figure). Mrs. Fulwiler gives a fantastic look into the mind of an atheist and how much of an obstacle pride can be to a potential convert. This makes the subsequent revolution for Christ all the more inspiring. We probably don't adequately appreciate the work of grace in reforming these kinds of folks.

Read the whole thing, but here are what I would hold out as the highlights.

One night I was discussing the topic with my husband, who was re-examining his own pro-choice stance. He made a passing remark that startled me into reconsidering this issue: “It just occurred to me that being pro-life is being pro-other-people’s-life,” he quipped. “Everyone is pro-their-own-life.”

His remark made me realize that my pro-choice viewpoints had put me in the position of deciding whose lives were worth living, and even who was human. Along with doctors, the government and other abortion advocates, I decided where to draw this crucial line. When I would come across Catholic Web sites or books that asserted “Life begins at conception,” I would scoff, as was my habit, yet I found myself increasingly uncomfortable with my defense. I realized that my criteria for determining when human life begins were distressingly vague. I was putting the burden of proof on the fetuses to demonstrate to me that they were human, and I was a tough judge. I found myself looking the other way when I heard about things like the 3-D ultrasounds that showed fetuses touching their faces, smiling and opening their eyes at ages at which I still considered abortion acceptable. As modern technology revealed more and more evidence that fetuses were humans too, I would simply move the bar for what I considered human.

Making these kinds of calls is naturally the province of God alone. And so we return (again) to the original lie that deceived our First Parents:

You shall be as gods.

Genesis 3:5


I recognized that I too had probably told myself lies in order to maintain my support for abortion. Yet there was some tremendous pressure that kept me from objectively looking at the issue. Something deep within me screamed that not to allow women to have abortions, at least in the first trimester, would be unfair in the direst sense of the word. Even as I became religious, I mentally pushed aside thoughts that all humans might have God-given eternal souls worthy of dignity and respect. It became too tricky to figure out when we receive those souls, the most obvious answer being “at conception,” as opposed to some arbitrary point during gestation. It was not until I re-evaluated the societal views of sex that had permeated the consciousness of my peer group that I was able to release that internal pressure I felt and take an unflinching look at abortion...

My pro-choice views (and I imagine those of many others) were motivated by loving concern: I just did not want women to have to suffer, to have to devalue themselves by dealing with unwanted pregnancies. Since it was an inherent part of my worldview that everyone except people with “hang-ups” eventually has sex, and that sex is, under normal circumstances, only about the relationship between the two people involved, I was lured into one of the oldest, biggest, most tempting lies in human history: the enemy is not human. Babies had become the enemy because of their tendency to pop up and ruin everything; and just as societies are tempted to dehumanize their fellow human beings on the other side of the line in wartime, so had I, and we as a society, dehumanized what we saw as the enemy of sex.

Ideally I would have taken an objective look at when human life begins and based my views on that alone, but the lie was just too tempting. I did not want to hear too much about heartbeats or souls or brain activity. Terminating pregnancies simply had to be acceptable, because carrying a baby to term and becoming a parent is a huge deal, and society had made it very clear that sex was not a huge deal. As long as I accepted the premise that engaging in sex with a contraceptive mentality was morally acceptable, I could not bring myself to consider that abortion might not be acceptable. It seemed inhumane to make women deal with life-altering consequences for an act that was not supposed to have life-altering consequences.

Given my background, the Catholic idea that we are always to treat the sexual act with awe and respect, so much so that we should simply abstain if we are opposed to its life-giving potential, was a revolutionary message. Being able to consider honestly when life begins, to open my heart and mind to the wonder and dignity of even the tiniest of my fellow human beings, was not fully possible for me until I understood the nature of the act that creates these little lives in the first place.

The entry ends with a comparison between our own societal mentality and that of the ancients who saw no problem with leaving their children to die of exposure simply because they didn't want to put up with raising a child who might be less than fit.

Returning to the point, though, we should never despair about the conversion of others. Mrs. Fulwiler is a good example of how even the most reluctant or recalcitrant can be taken by grace into the Church. We are called to help them with our own prayers and fasting. However, just because we don't see the results doesn't mean that things aren't happening.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Trip To England

I said I'd get around to it, so I am.

Before getting around to the specific events of the trip, I'm going to throw out an example of contrasting leadership styles so that we can have an adequate contrast.

Consider this entry by Fr. Z regarding Archlayman Rowan's steadfast commitment to nothing.

In an article in The Times published today, the contents of an interview with Archbp. Williams are exposed in advance of next month’s publication of a book entitled Shadow Gospel: Rowan Williams and the Anglican Communion Crisis. The Times provided some of an interview of Williams by Ginny Dougary.

Inter alia, Williams says (for the first time) that he has “no problem” with homosexuals being bishops, but gay clergy must be celibate. I think the writer meant “chaste”, since celibate means unmarried. When will people get this right?

Williams indicated his personal support for the consecration of homosexual bishops in the Church of England, but that he will never endorse homosexual clergy in active relationships because tradition and historical “standards” dictate that homosexual clergy must remain chaste. He won’t endorse priests and bishops in active homosexual relationship because “the cost to the Church overall was too great to be borne at that point”.

The moral dimension of such a controversy is completely bypassed. Rowan's best rationale for his view is talk of tradition and standards. This makes the episcopacy something along the lines of your average game of pick-up basketball. It's done that way just because it's worked for a while, and it's currently convenient to continue doing so. This isn't really leadership, so much as an attempt to straddle a rather significant fence by passing the buck for the status quo to dead people. Rowan, per usual, avoids reason and accountability and teachable moments.

I have to wonder what this "cost" to the Anglican Communion is that is so great. The Communion itself is basically already shattered, in large part due to this issue. Come on, Rowan. Could it really get any worse?

On to Pope Benedict. As we know, this visit was not without controversy. For example:

Police said some 125,000 people lined the streets to cheer the pope. Around 150 protesters also turned out, waving gay rainbow flags and banners saying "Pope opposition to condoms kills people" and "Stop protecting pedophile priests."

He told reporters it was not the mission of the Catholic Church to change with the times "to try to be more attractive," but to declare what it believed to be fundamental truths.

Note the difference. When faced with conflict, Rowan appeals to the some kind of weird historical Robert's Rules of Order. The Pope doesn't go there. Instead, we hear about truth and the inalterable nature of such truth, regardless of convenience.

On the subject of such truths, the Pope would later talk about how such truth is the foundation of ecumenism, per his address at Westminster:

Our commitment to Christian unity is born of nothing less than our faith in Christ, in this Christ, risen from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father, who will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. It is the reality of Christ’s person, his saving work and above all the historical fact of his resurrection, which is the content of the apostolic kerygma and those credal formulas which, beginning in the New Testament itself, have guaranteed the integrity of its transmission. The Church’s unity, in a word, can never be other than a unity in the apostolic faith, in the faith entrusted to each new member of the Body of Christ during the rite of Baptism. It is this faith which unites us to the Lord, makes us sharers in his Holy Spirit, and thus, even now, sharers in the life of the Blessed Trinity, the model of the Church’s koinonia here below.

In otherwords, there is no unity without the Faith. The content of the Faith isn't what has become the standard of Anglicanism, which is basically the negation of dogma. It's what was handed down by the Apostles, and anybody who thinks that the Schori/Spong model of theology is apostolic should have their head examined.

And, of course, there's a further contrast between the Schori/Spong clan and that of Cardinal Newman, who was beatified by Pope Benedict himself during the trip:

Today’s Gospel tells us that no one can be the servant of two masters (cf. Lk 16:13), and Blessed John Henry’s teaching on prayer explains how the faithful Christian is definitively taken into the service of the one true Master, who alone has a claim to our unconditional devotion (cf. Mt 23:10). Newman helps us to understand what this means for our daily lives: he tells us that our divine Master has assigned a specific task to each one of us, a "definite service", committed uniquely to every single person: "I have my mission", he wrote, "I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do his work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place … if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling" (Meditations and Devotions, 301-2).

No two masters for Cardinal Newman. He had to go where the Truth was. The historical standards of Anglicanism and the costs that he had to bear were of secondary consequence. Heart indeed speaks to heart, and the heart of Christ spoke to that of Cardinal Newman. He followed where the Kindly Light led him and didn't shy away when the Cross got heavy. I take a lot of digs at Anglicanism here, but let's face facts. There aren't many Catholics who qualify for such courage these days.

And let me add this, it is shameful that Cardinal Newman is still the subject of insults today. I expect it from Anglicans who consider him a traitor. I also expect it from liberal Catholics who basically think anyone who converts is somehow degrading themselves (*cough*Cardinal Kasper*cough*). What is ridiculous and embarrassing is to such commentary from Catholics who do take orthodoxy seriously and continue to cast aspersions on his character and faith. May God forgive such people for their calumny.

Anyways, maybe there are some Anglicans who are willing to take up that Cross and make the journey that Blessed John Henry Newman made.

Britain could have an Ordinariate by the end of the year, it emerged today.

Sources say that the Rt Rev Keith Newton, the flying Bishop of Richborough and the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, the flying Bishop of Ebbsfleet, will take up the special canonical structure, which allows groups of Anglicans to come into full Communion with Rome without losing their Anglican identity, before the end of the calendar year...

Traditionally-minded Anglican clergy from the South of England were gathering at a Sacred Synod in Westminster today to discuss the future direction of the Church of England. The meeting was called by the Rt Rev John Frank Ford, the Anglican Bishop of Plymouth. He invited the signatories of a 2008 open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, which expressed reservations over women bishops...

In a statement Bishop Burnham said that Anglicanorum coetibusoffered “Anglo-Catholics the way to full communion with the Catholic Church for which they worked and prayed for at least a century and it is a way in which they will be ‘united and not absorbed’.”

He said that discussions were under way about how the “vision of the Apostolic Constitution” could be implemented” and said the first people to take up the initiative would require vision and courage.

He quoted Pope Benedict’s speech to the bishops of England, Wales and Scotland, saying the Holy Father set his offer to Anglicans “firmly within the developing ecumenical dialogue” and said it was an “an exciting initiative for those for whom the vision of Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) of corporate union has shaped their thinking over recent years”.

The issue, he said, was “the ministry of the Pope himself, as the successor of St Peter. Anglicans who accept that ministry as it is presently exercised will want to respond warmly to the Apostolic Constitution”. He said: “Those who do not accept the ministry of the Pope or would want to see that ministry in different ways will not feel able to accept Anglicanorum Coetibus.”

Bishop Burnham added: “The decision to respond to the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution is not dependent on the decisions of the General Synod or on any particular issue of church order. The initiative should be judged on its own merit. It will require courage, and vision on the part of those who accept the invitation, particularly amongst the first to respond."

It will take all those things and more.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for them (and all the rest of us).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Maybe it's Chrome that is the problem. I posted that last one in Firefox and it worked with the colored font and stuff.


From Rorate:

Liturgical Reform: Coming Soon to the Eastern Churches?

Somebody make it stop!!!!!!

During the first General Congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops on October 11, 2010, the Reporter of the Synod, His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church, gave a lengthy report before the discussions began. (See this.) In the course of his lengthy report, which touches upon numerous matters of great importance for the dwindling flock of Christians in the Middle East, the Patriarch said the following about liturgical reform:

A great many people are deeply desiring liturgical renewal, which, while remaining faithful to tradition, would take into account modern sensitivities as well as today’s spiritual and pastoral needs. The work of liturgical reform would require a commission of experts. Perhaps some usefulness might result from adapting liturgical texts to celebrations with children and youth, while remaining faithful to each Church’s heritage. This could be the work of an interdisciplinary group of experts. Some look for liturgical renewal in the area of devotional practices. Whatever the case, adaptation and reform must consider the ecumenical aspect. The particularly delicate question of communicatio in sacris requires special study.

What the hell is this? Have they lost their freaking minds????

It didn't stop there:

This openness to liturgical reform was immediately taken up in the next morning by Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako (who said)

Liturgical reformation based upon sacred scripture, but also the patristics and pastoral demands of today. Otherwise our faithful will go looking for other churches as has already happened in some cases.

You know that comment about insanity being trying the same crap over and over whilst expecting a different result? That's what this is. It's the same bill of goods that was sold in the post-conciliar liturgical reform. Has Archbishop Sako been paying attention to Mass attendance since the advent of the Pauline Mass? Or does he just think that the Easterners can do it better?

Holy smokes. I never thought I'd see this kind of stuff. The only think this is guaranteed to do is drive the Eastern Catholics across the Bosporus to the Orthodox churches, who are pretty vocal about the liturgical wasteland of Catholicism being a big obstacle to ecumenism.

If they want reforms that are promoted to de-Latinize (which are also mentioned in the Rorate post), I'm all for it. Watching a Maronite liturgy that is basically the Ordinary Form is uncomfortable and awkward and all kinds of other bad things. For the love of God and His Church, though, let's not start screwing up the Eastern liturgy just when we seem to be getting a fix for what's wrong in the West.

Monday, October 11, 2010

And Persecution In France

Everyone here is going to start thinking I'm just turning into some sort of news service on the horrible. It's not the case, although there is a lot of horrible stuff happening right now. I've been out for a while and the news has piled up, so I'm trying to get it out there.

This is from the Eponymous Flower:

Since the 1st of January 2010 there have been 140 Catholic cemeteries and 183 Catholic churches and chapels desecrated.

Bruce Hortefeux (52), French Interior Minister, said this in a conference on the 22nd of September.

The reason for the Minister's explanation was the violation of almost twenty Catholic graves in teh 2,700 population community Frontenay-Rohan-Rohan in Western France.

Hotrefeux in his presentation explained, that such incidents are "insufferable".

Actually till now the French State has done almost nothing to raise the consciousness of the violence against Catholicism.

How nice that they are getting around to taking a look at this. A question raised on the blog that deserves some reflection, though, is where are the bishops in all this.

Some of the vandalism is described elsewhere in the article. It's enough to have gotten attention if the number of places involved is even close to being accurate. Hopefully, we'll be able to keep track of this to see what they really do to deal with the problem.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Persecution In Saudi Arabia

According to the Filipino Global Nation:

Saudi police raided a secret Catholic mass in Riyadh last week and arrested a dozen Filipinos and a Catholic priest, charging them with prosyletising, a local daily reported on Wednesday.

The raid took place as some 150 Filipinos were attending the mass in a Riyadh rest house on Friday, the second day of the weekend in Saudi Arabia, Arab News said.

The twelve Filipino men and the priest, whose nationality was not specified, were "charged with prosyletising," the daily quoted an official from the Philippine embassy in Riyadh as saying.

Apparently, their embassies got them released later. I didn't realize there were over a million Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia. That's a whole lot of (most likely) Catholics who live without the ability to openly attend Mass.

Interestingly enough, I haven't seen Ban Ki-Moon chiming in on this. I suppose the world's elite powers are far too busy worrying about random pastors in Florida burning the Koran to comment on nations like this throwing folks in jail for attending Mass.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Attacks On The Church Grow Bolder

In Brazil, the Church is being warned not to chastise ostensibly Catholic politicians for supporting abortion. Per CNA:

This week, the personal secretary of Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva told high-ranking Church officials that if presidential candidate Dilma Rousseff continues to be called out for her stance on abortion, the country's accords with the Vatican will be reviewed.

The Italian news agency ANSA reported that the president's secretary, Gilberto Carvalho, met with members of the National Bishops' Conference of Brazil and told them that the government may carry out a review of the accords that establish aid for Catholic schools and other programs.

In recent weeks, the country's bishops have been vocal, reminding Catholics that they cannot support pro-abortion politicians.

In other words, candidates should be able to do and say whatever they want, and the Church should shut up and take it. Otherwise, there will be national and diplomatic consequences in the form of trying to shut down charitable and educational programs. So much for open and honest debate.

The persecution is growing, even in the largest Catholic nation in the world. What other entity would receive this sort of threat for speaking out on such issues?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Blessed Bartolo Longo

Normally, we take time this year to commemorate the great victory at Lepanto, as we did here and here. Since October is the month of the Rosary, though, I wanted to talk about a different sort of victory won by the Holy Mother of God for Her Son by Her Rosary.

This is Blessed Bartolo Longo. Looks like a nice enough guy, doesn't he? Good Catholic boy, raised in a good and devout Catholic family in Italy back in the mid 1800s. You probably wouldn't have figured him as a priest of Satan.

That's right. He was an officially ordained minister of the Adversary. This is a fall from the faith you normally don't see or hear people talk about. We can't even get people to acknowledge Satan these days, much less take up spiritual arms for him. Even when people do consider Satan, they are more and more thinking of the Anton Levay Carnival version rather than the real thing.

Anyways, Blessed Bartolo's involvement with the occult eventually began to take its toll on him. One of his old buddies helped him gradually back into the Church with the help of some good Dominican priests. Bartolo even went on to become a tertiary in the Order. Scruples remained for him, though. After all, think of the guilt we carry around for our own sins. How do you think you would feel if your past life was as a full-blown ambassador of evil?

It was the Blessed Mother and the Rosary who helped him overcome these feelings and understand that he, too, could be saved in spite of his past sins. He would go on to restore the church in Pompeii and propagate the Rosary as a means of sanctity for all. He went to be with his King and Queen on October 5, 1926 and was beatified by John Paul II in 1980.

It is truly a wonder to reflect on what friends we have in Jesus.

As a true apostle of the Rosary, Blessed Bartolo Longo had a special charism. His path to holiness rested on an inspiration heard in the depths of his heart: “Whoever spreads the Rosary is saved!”.(13) As a result, he felt called to build a Church dedicated to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Pompei, against the background of the ruins of the ancient city, which scarcely heard the proclamation of Christ before being buried in 79 A.D. during an eruption of Mount Vesuvius, only to emerge centuries later from its ashes as a witness to the lights and shadows of classical civilization. By his whole life's work and especially by the practice of the “Fifteen Saturdays”, Bartolo Longo promoted the Christocentric and contemplative heart of the Rosary, and received great encouragement and support from Leo XIII, the “Pope of the Rosary”...

In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation – in Mary's company – of the face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms of friendship. We are thereby enabled to enter naturally into Christ's life and as it were to share his deepest feelings. In this regard Blessed Bartolo Longo has written: “Just as two friends, frequently in each other's company, tend to develop similar habits, so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection”...

As a counting mechanism, marking the progress of the prayer, the beads evoke the unending path of contemplation and of Christian perfection. Blessed Bartolo Longo saw them also as a “chain” which links us to God. A chain, yes, but a sweet chain; for sweet indeed is the bond to God who is also our Father. A “filial” chain which puts us in tune with Mary, the “handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38) and, most of all, with Christ himself, who, though he was in the form of God, made himself a “servant” out of love for us (Phil 2:7)...

At the start of the twenty-fifth year of my Pontificate, I entrust this Apostolic Letter to the loving hands of the Virgin Mary, prostrating myself in spirit before her image in the splendid Shrine built for her by Blessed Bartolo Longo, the apostle of the Rosary. I willingly make my own the touching words with which he concluded his well-known Supplication to the Queen of the Holy Rosary: “O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of Hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we will never abandon you. You will be our comfort in the hour of death: yours our final kiss as life ebbs away. And the last word from our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompei, O dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. May you be everywhere blessed, today and always, on earth and in heaven”.

Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Scriptural Goodies

Let's take a look at our readings for today.

First, we've got Habakkuk basically trying to call God out for the fact that things are so bad in the world:

How long, O LORD? I cry for help
but you do not listen!
I cry out to you, "Violence!"
but you do not intervene.
Why do you let me see ruin;
why must I look at misery?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and clamorous discord.

This is very much applicable to our modern age, especially among Catholics (like myself) who spend a lot of time lamenting the state of the Church. Posts like this one spell the problem out pretty well.

God's response is what we should all remember:

Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,
so that one can read it readily.
For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
if it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late.
The rash one has no integrity;
but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.

In other words, why are we in such a hurry? Frankly, we should be looking at this extra time God is giving us as a manifestation of His mercy. All our complaining does is prove that God is way more merciful than we are.

The second reading was from 2 Timothy and was relevant on a couple of points. From the get-go, you have this:

I remind you, to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.

All I could think of was the recent Baptist trend of self-bishopping, for lack of a better term. Paul seems pretty clear in writing to Timothy that ordination is a gift from God. It's also pretty clear that said gift isn't something you call down from heaven on yourself. You have to get it from someone who already has it. And it sure as hell isn't to help out with your "self-identification."

So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the gospel
with the strength that comes from God.

Something tells me this doesn't come up in your average Joyce Meyer sermon. Imprisonment? Hardship? This doesn't sound like complete victory for my personal life, my finances, my profession, my dog, etc. It sounds more like the Truth, so yeah, I doubt Joyce has gotten around to this verse.

Finally, you've got Luke's Gospel:

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."

Note that the Apostles are asking Jesus to increase their faith. They don't seem to have much of an expectation of being able to pull this off on their own. That's because we only have faith because God gives it to us. It's a tragic symptom of our current ecclesial sentiment that many seem to think that they are the driving force behind their salvation. Folks don't realize that they can't even believe in God without God starting them off.

Then you have this:

"Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
'Come here immediately and take your place at table'?
Would he not rather say to him,
'Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished'?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, 'We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.'"

This is, of course, applicable to everyone. Chris Rock has a bit in his "Bring The Pain" routine that addresses the stupidity of people desiring praise for doing basic things that everyone knows they are supposed to do (eg- taking care of one's kids). However, this really seems to strike a chord if you consider it in light of the episcopate. Reflect on those who take so many opportunities to disobey the Holy Father, reject Church teaching, commit crimes against the laity, pass the buck for said crimes, etc. When confronted with their defects, even when presented in the most charitable form possible, the reaction is one of indignation, as though God should somehow be glad that they were willing to accept consecration in the first place. And if God has a problem with how they are doing things, then He needs to get His mind right.

Just a few thoughts from the day. Feel free to add your own.

To answer the questions of those who've been asking, yes, we will be resuming regular posting now.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

OK, I Give Up

I have absolutely no idea how to avoid my font tags being screwed up. I have, as all can see, even tried redoing the whole format here. Nothing is working. Everyone is just going to have to bear with me for a while, and maybe, just maybe, Blogger will get around to answering my question about this.