Saturday, January 28, 2012

Have I Ever Mentioned How Much I Hate


The poster below.

Ex-Episcopalians In Baltimore

Not sure how I missed this one, but Rorate had posted an article from Catholic Review of Baltimore about an Episcopalian Parish taking advantage of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Cardinal-designate Edwin F. O’Brien, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, announced Jan. 19 that Mount Calvary Church, a Baltimore parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, will be received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church through the newly created Anglican Ordinariate for the United States.

Father Jason Catania, Mount Calvary’s pastor, informed the archdiocese that it has reached an agreement with the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, effectively ending the parish’s 169-year history with the Anglican Church. In October 2010, the parish’s vestry unanimously voted to leave the Episcopal Church and to become an Anglican-use Catholic parish.

Mount Calvary’s reception into the Catholic Church marks the second such Anglican community in Baltimore to do so. In 2009, Cardinal-designate O’Brien welcomed 10 Episcopal nuns and their chaplain to the Archdiocese. In 2011, the nuns, members of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville, were welcomed into a newly erected Roman Catholic diocesan priory of the same name. Their chaplain, Father Warren Tanghe, was ordained a Catholic priest in June.

“The steady flow of Mount Calvary alumni to Rome, combined with the decision by the All Saints Sisters and the publication of Anglicanorum coeitbus, made it clear to the people of the parish that our future lies with the Catholic Church,” Father Catania said.

And check out the actual event for the occasion. A Solemn High Mass. Pretty sweet stuff.

Enemies Of The Church

It isn't just Barack Obama & Co. They are everywhere, and we were warned about them.

Have you ever heard of Bella Dodd? She was a very prominent organizer of the Communist Party here in America back in the 30s and 40s. Eventually, she saw the error of her ways and came back to the Church, in large part thanks to the efforts of Bishop Sheen. In the 1950s, she testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Lots of people remember her claiming that Communists had garnered very high posts advising the president, as well as positions controlling labor unions. What many don't recall is that she also said that over 1100 Communist agents had been injected into the Church's seminaries in the 1930s and that many had risen up through the hierarchy.

If you have trouble believing this, take a look at some recent news from Bulgaria about the Orthodox Church there. Per Novinite:

Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, says he is stunned by the number of agents and collaborators of the former Communist State Security, DS, among senior clergy at the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

On Tuesday, Bulgaria's so-called Files Commission – a panel investigating the Communist era secret files, exposed eleven out of a total of fifteen Bulgarian Metropolitan bishops as former DS agents.

"I was shocked by the scale of this. Yes, I have heard about one or two, but eleven out of fifteen – this is way too much. There is separation between the Church and the State, so it is none of my business to comment on this. I am talking only about those who entered in this interaction with the State then on their own will and voluntarily became agents," Borisov said.

This is nothing new. The Russian Orthodox Church was a hotbed of KGB activity, all the way up to Patriarch Alexei II's (codename Drozdov) collaboration. Are we so foolish as to think that the Catholic Church would be immune to such an infiltration?

Remember, the Church has enemies. They aren't stupid. They aren't lazy. They want to destroy us all.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Catholics Dropping Mad Science, Yo

Some of our brethren have taken up the banner of the Church to respond to the Humpty Dumpty guy on the subject of Jesus and religion. Excellent work, gentlemen. Excellent work.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Other War

I was ignoring these stories until something definitive broke. I first saw it on Rorate that the Holy Father was going to give approval to the liturgical wackiness of the NW. What a difference seven or so years can make. This is the same group that Pope Benedict chastised a while back for this same weirdness. From the looks of things, they are still doing exactly what got them into trouble before. Only now, they aren't getting sanctioned for doing so.

But are they getting approval? Who knows? In yet another stunning example of the Church's unwillingness to speak clearly about things, we see the following report, again from Rorate:

A moment ago, the Decree was read with the approval of the celebrations present in the "Catechetical Directory of the Neocatechumenal Way", which are not strictly liturgical, but are part of the itinerary of growth in the faith. It is another element that shows to you how the Church follows you with attention in a pacient discernment, that she understands your richness, but also takes care for communion and harmony in the whole Corpus Ecclesiae...

The celebration in the small communities, regulated by the Liturgical Books, that are to be followed faithfully, and with the specificities approved in the Statutes of the Way, has the goal of helping those who walk on the neocatechumenal itinerary realize the grace of being inserted in the salvific mystery of Christ, who makes possible a Christian testimony capable of also assuming signs of radicalness.

I have no idea what any of this actually means. It sounds like something was approved. But what? Fr. Z has tried to parse the language in as positive a manner as possible, focusing mostly on the "which are not strictly liturgical" part and the text of the decree which says that the approved celebrations are those "contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way which are not, by their nature, already regulated by the liturgical books of the Church."

Ok, so maybe their liturgy wasn't approved. But something was, and as the folks at Rorate point out, that's all the NWs were really looking for. This will be flung around for years now as an official Vatican thumbs-up for whatever disco liturgies the whack-jobs out there can think of.

If I may, though, this is only part of the story. Consider these other items, also from Rorate, especially that last one. The Extraordinary Form continues to proliferate, with South Carolina having an additional two priests offering it and France being blessed with a fourth personal parish in France that is exclusively for the EF. Look again at the last story linked, though:

For the first time in decades, a cerimoniere pontificio - Monsignor Marco Agostini, an official in the State Secretariat who has also been since June 2009 in the staff of the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, headed by Mgr. Guido Marini - celebrated the Traditional Mass publicly. It took place yesterday in the Personal Parish of Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, the parish entrusted to the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) in the Diocese of Rome.

This is kind of a big deal. Not on par probably with the NW news, but still a big deal. I think all this points to a major conflict going on behind the scenes among the players in the Vatican. The Pope, unfortunately, looks to be boxed in on several fronts. It's all very Windswept House, I'm afraid. At this point, the Holy Father might not have the energy to keep up with all the different currents going on. I hope it's not true, but I have no other explanation for such radically different initiatives coming out of Rome all at the same time.

Pray for the Pope. Pray for the bishops. Pray for the priests and religious.

And One More Thing

I was thinking about this and was curious as the following argument. I'm no canon lawyer, but it would be interesting to see how this would play out.

Catholics aren't allowed to join certain organizations. The most known of these is Freemasonry, but the canon in question is much broader:

Can. 1374 A person who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; however, a person who promotes or directs an association of this kind is to be punished with an interdict.

As of this point, the Obama Administration seems to form just such an association. Now, you might have difficulty defining the "Administration" but it would seem that HHS could qualify rather easily.

A separate point. Could the bishops ask the Democratic Party to repudiate this new position by the President and, if it refuses to do so, invoke this canon against the entire party? They are certainly promoting a President and his organization in a plot against the Church. It would be a bold move, which is what is called for here. It would probably lead to a massive conflagration over the Church's tax exempt status.

As I said before, though, he's either stopped here or he won't be stopped ever.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fr. Jenkins At ND Responds To Obama's Decision

You got to be kidding me.

“I am deeply disappointed in a decision by the administration that will place many religious organizations of all faiths in an untenable position.

“This unnecessary intervention by the government into religion disregards our nation’s commitment to the rights of conscience and the longstanding work of religious groups to help build a more compassionate society and vibrant democracy. I find that profoundly troubling on many levels.

“Moving forward, we call for a national dialogue among religious groups, government and the American people to reaffirm our country’s historic respect for freedom of conscience and defense of religious liberty.”

Really? That's all you have for us? You are "disappointed" and "troubled" by all this. Well, gee, I'm sorry your feelings are hurt. How about addressing your role in this? Or just calling the President out as a liar? Maybe you remember when he said this:

Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women." Those are things we can do.

Maybe you do. Maybe you recall when you looked for the adoration of man instead of service to God by giving this creep a platform to promote himself. Maybe you do, but you sure as hell don't seem all that remorseful about it.

And then to bend the knee again by asking for DIALOGUE of all things. Dialogue? Are you completely insane? Something about "doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result" comes to mind. First off, the man lied to your face. That alone is worth calling him out. But now he's directly attacking the Church and your best response is to ask for dialogue? Holy smokes!

Let's hope that the rest of the Church's leaders react with something more than an appeal for more failure.

This Means War

By now, you've probably heard that President Obama and his lackeys have decided to push ahead with the rule requiring health plans in the US to cover sterilization, contraceptives, and abortifacients. This can be construed as nothing more than an attack on the Church. We already knew that the Church was being singled out for discriminatory treatment in receiving grant funds to help victims of sex trafficking all because the Administration wanted to make sure that abortions were available.

Now, the President is actively seeking to destroy Catholic institutions, from hospitals to universities, by stripping them of their ability to provide health benefits to employees. The bishops have already responded:

The Catholic bishops of the United States called “literally unconscionable” a decision by the Obama Administration to continue to demand that sterilization, abortifacients and contraception be included in virtually all health plans. Today’s announcement means that this mandate and its very narrow exemption will not change at all; instead there will only be a delay in enforcement against some employers.

“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The cardinal-designate continued, “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."

No, Archbishop Dolan. What this represents is war, and hopefully a realization among Catholics that this initiative is a test run to see how the switch from a passive persecution to an active one is going to work. I hope the bishops understand that this is what their inactivity on the political front has wrought. Playing see-no-evil with the Ted Kennedys and Nancy Pelosis of the world sounded really good when the storm was just brewing. Now it's breaking, and the Church's sway in this country is at its nadir.

Hopefully, this will wake everyone up. This president and his supporters are enemies of the Church and therefore enemies of God. Remember what Christ said to St. Paul:

And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Acts 9:4

Making war against the Church is to making war against God. Catholics need to get involved now to defeat this man in the next election. Call your legislators in Congress. Do something, anything, but don't let this assault stand without confrontation.

Most of all, pray for the bishops. The President is being subtle, but essentially, this is just a request for the episcopate's submission. Either they stop him here, or he's going to run them over on everything else from this point on. Maybe they'll have to serve some time for civil disobedience. The point is that this could get ugly real quick, and we should support the ones who fight, pray for the weak ones so that they will fight as well.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Let Our People Go

I know I've mentioned the Cardinal Kung Foundation several times. Please support the underground Church in China. It gets very little, if any, attention and deserves our prayers and offerings. When groups protest or decry relations with China, they love to mention workers' rights, unions, and other such items. Even if you are a "Catholic" university, it seems that unionization is a more important issue than the persecution and murder of fellow Catholics.

AsiaNews doesn't ignore this. They are making an appeal for some of our captive priests and bishops to be freed.

In a letter to President Hu Jintao and the Chinese ambassador in Italy, AsiaNews has decided to ask for the release of three bishops and of six priests who have disappeared in police custody or are detained in prison without trial. Their release could be a gesture of friendship and hope for Catholics and human rights activists, as well as a sign of true hope for the upcoming Chinese New Year.

In just a few days, on January 23, the world of the Far East celebrates the Lunar New Year: we will enter the Year of the Dragon, a very positive year that promises many fruits. In China, hundreds of millions of people will travel to join their families: the dawn of the New Year is always celebrated by strengthening the bonds of family and friendships which help to face the future with an even more positive outlook.

For this reason, we ask that for these three bishops and six priests to be restored to their families and their communities.

They were never charged with any crime; given the opportunity of a trial or convicted by a court. And yet they have been interred in forced labour camps or were seized by the police of a country that is a member of the UN Security Council and that has signed the Charter of Human Rights.

I'm reproducing all of the captives' entries from AsiaNews here. Please pray for them, especially Bishop Su Zhimin, who the Cardinal Kung Foundation assigned to me for my prayers.

Bishops and priests who have disappeared in police custody

Msgr. James Su Zhimin underground bishop of Baoding (Hebei)
Msgr. Su, nearly 80 years of age, was arrested by police on October 8, 1997. The charge that led to his arrest has never been revealed, nor whether a trial took place, while place of his detention is unknown. In November 2003 he was discovered by chance at a hospital in Baoding, surrounded by policemen. After a brief and hurried visit from relatives, he once again disappeared in police custody and to this day there has been no more information on his whereabouts.
Before his last arrest, Msgr. Su Zhimin spent at least 26 years on and off in prison or forced labour camps, branded as "counter-revolutionary" just because, since the 1950s, he always refused to join the Patriotic Association, which wants to build a national Church independent of the pope. In 1996 - from a hidden location because he was sought by the authorities – he was able to distribute an open letter calling on the Chinese government to respect human rights and religious freedom of the people. In all, has already spent 40 years in captivity.

Msgr Cosma Shi Enxiang, underground bishop of Yixian (Hebei)
Bishop Shi, 90, was arrested April 13 the 2001, which was Good Friday. Nothing is known of him, although his family and the faithful continue to ask the police for at least some news of his wellbeing.
Msgr. Shi Enxiang has suffered long periods of prison from 1957 until 1980, was forced into hard labour, first on a farm in Heilongjiang, then as a miner in coal mines in Shanxi. He was arrested again for three years in 1983, followed by three years of house arrest. In 1989 – following the establishment of the Episcopal Conference of underground bishops – he was arrested once again and was only released in 1993, until his last arrest in 2001. In all, he has already spent 51 years in prison.

Fr. Joseph Lu Genjun, vicar general of the underground diocese of Baoding (Hebei)
He disappeared in police custody February 17, 2006. Fr. Lu, who belongs to the underground Church, was arrested in February 2006 along with another priest and a friend whom he met at the train station in Baoding. The other priest was transferred to the Xushui prison (Hebei) and later released. Instead, to date no-one knows where Fr. Lu is imprisoned.
In December 2008, his parishioners asked the government for his release, even if only temporary, to be close to his dying parents and attend their funeral. But even this act of filial piety, which is of great importance in Chinese culture, was denied him.
Fr. Lu has suffered years of imprisonment and other violence. In 1998, Palm Sunday, he was jailed for a short period (perhaps to keep him from celebrating Masses during Holy Week). In 2001 he was sentenced to three years of "re-education through labour" (forced labour camps), accused of having conducted illegal missionary activities that undermine social order because he did not adhere to the Patriotic Association. He was released in 2003.
In May 2004 he was arrested along with another priest, shortly before giving a lecture on natural methods of birth control and moral theology. The two were kept for several days in Dingzhou prison, near Anguita (Hebei).

Fr. Zhang Jianlin, underground priest of the diocese of Xuanhua (Hebei)
Fr. Zhang was taken away by staff of the Religious Affairs Bureau on 22 June 2011. Up to now no-one knows where he is being held.
In July 2009, Fr. Zhang had been taken away by police and placed under house arrest in a courtyard attached to the building of a government office. He had been given permission to receive visitors, but was been subjected to heavy physical and psychological tactics to force him to support the Council of Chinese Bishops (not recognized by the Holy See) and to join the Patriotic Association. After seven months of detention he was released, but was kept under constant control, he could not move freely, and was forbidden to practice his ministry
In 2008 he was arrested in Nanjing, for trying to go to the Marian shrine of Sheshan on May 24 and participate in the celebration of the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, convoked by Pope Benedict XVI. Brought back to Hebei, he served a period of detention in Xuanhua.

Fr. Cui Tai, underground priest of the diocese of Xuanhua (Hebei)
Fr. Cui disappeared in police custody June 22, 2011. That day some personalities of the government’s Religious Affairs Bureau dragged him away and since then he has disappeared without trace.
He had often been arrested and then released. During his periods of detention, he suffered hunger and his health has drastically deteriorated. In 1993, undergoing a sentence of three years in prison, was beaten and lost two teeth.
In 2001, due to an accident, the police discovered his identity as a priest and detained him in an isolated place in the mountains, forcing him to undergo political sessions and brainwashing. He was later released, but could never freely carry out his ministry, being under constant surveillance.

Bishops and priests who are detained or imprisoned

Fr. Liu Honggen, underground priest of the diocese of Baoding (Hebei)
Fr. Liu and eight other priests were arrested in the village of Xinanzuo (Qingyuan County, Hebei), 27 December 2006. He is currently detained in the prison of Qingyuan

Fr. Ma Wuyong, underground priest of the diocese of Baoding (Hebei)
Fr. Ma and 8 other priests were arrested in August 2004 in the village of Suijiazhuang (Quyang County, Hebei). The priests had gathered to celebrate their first year of ordination. At least 20 police cars arrived at the place carrying out a door to door search and arrest them. Fr. Ma is currently held in a prison in Qingyuan.
Before the Chinese New Year 2006, Fr. Ma was temporarily released from prison. He was re-arrested a month later, after attending the funeral of a priest of Baoding, Fr. Chen Baidu.

Fr. Wang Chengli, underground priest of the Diocese of Heze (Shandong)
On 25 August 2011, Fr. Wang, 48, was sentenced to two and a half years of "re-education through labor" (forced labour) probably because he refused to join the Patriotic Association. To serve his sentence, the priest was transferred from Dongming prison to Jining concentration camp, over 150 miles from his county.

Msgr. Wu Qinjing, official bishop of the diocese of Zhouzhi (Shaanxi)
Since November 2007 the government has forced this young bishop to remain imprisoned in the minor seminary in Xian and limits his activities. Bishop Wu was secretly ordained as a bishop of the official diocese of Zhouzhi, but without the permission of the local Patriotic Association. For this reason, since his ordination was made public (May 2006), the government has blocked all of his activities and has kidnapped him, forcing him to memorize the "Regulations on Religious Affairs". He is forbidden to carry the Episcopal insignia or carry out any activities as a bishop. He is still under house arrest at the seminary in Xian.

This is the price here on Earth of resisting Satan's work. Imprisonment, torture, and death. Please pray for this cause and for all of the other priests, bishops, religious, and laity of the underground Church. The rest of the world might forget about them, but we shouldn't.

Our Lady of She-Shan, please keep them safe.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Catholic Paradise

I concede that I ripped this off from Constable Toad over at DCF, but it was funny enough that I had to share.

To the tune of Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise:

(Modernist Priest): As I stroll to the altar and I bow at the waist
The choir sings banal lyrics of questionable taste
But I’ve been celebrating Mass like this for so long,
that even Eagle’s Wings sounds like a cool song
and I ain’t never worn a maniple or done an asperges
An amice or a cincture? You know I don’t wear these!
my church walls are bare now, I’ve got long hair now,
Following the rubrics? you know I don’t care!
I really hate to chant, or to genuflect,
I face the congregation, givin’ them respect, fool
I’m the kinda priest I think the kiddies wanna be like
Full of jokes, hugs and smiles,
With very little insight.

(with choir) Been saying Mass this way, though the congregation’s turning grey
Been saying Mass this way, though the congregation’s turning grey
Keep saying Mass this way, ‘til the congregation’s gone away
Keep saying Mass this way, ‘til the congregation’s gone away

(Traditional Priest) Here’s the situation, God you’re not facin’
Turn to the altar fool, and follow the book!
Red are the actions, the black words you read,
We’re not here to entertain, but to intercede.
You’re an educated fool, with your Kung and Bultmann
But your people wanna hear Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
You’re an outdated hippie, folk music and sandals,
Ignorant of piety, liturgical vandal, fool
put the hashpipe down, stow the guitars away,
Can the geriatric “teen” choir and the crap that they play
It’s past the millennium, Bob Marley is gone,
Can the rainbow vestments, put a fiddleback on!

(Modernist Priest) Tell me why was I, so blind to see
That the Church just wants reverent liturgy?

(with choir) Been saying Mass that way, while the congregation went away
Been saying Mass that way, while the congregation went away
In a modernistic haze, led the congregation all astray
In a modernistic haze, led the congregation all astray

(Both priests) Sin and absolution, end all the confusion,
More Latin, less ad libbing, that’s the real solution!
Put the veil on the chalice, give the deacon a dalmatic,
Reassemble the communion rail that’s stored up in the attic,
The rubrics can be learned, there are priests out there to teach you,
Send a shout out on the internet and Fr. Z will reach you!
It’s not so hard, just read the cards,
The Missal too, and you’ll say Mass like you’re s’posed to

(Modernist Priest) I said Mass Bugnini’s way, but the congregation went away
I said Mass McBrien’s way, but the congregation passed away,
Now I’ve turned the eastward way, and choir chants the Kyrie,
The Sovereign Pontiff I obey, off’ring Mass the Roman way

(choir) Tell me why were we stuck in ’73?
using Broadway tunes, tinged with heresy?
Now we’re celebrating proper liturgy,
Ditching Haugen and Haas, using Pergolesi!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Humpty Dumpty Syndrome

I'm coining this term. It basically means a complete disregard for the real meaning of words for the purpose of advancing a cause of complete egotism. Why Humpty Dumpty? I'm pulling this from Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking Glass:

`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master - - that's all.'

Needless to say, there are a lot of people infected with this disease. You could say it's gone viral. Sort of like this video:

If you're looking for a textbook case of Humpty Dumpty Syndrome, this guy is loaded with it. I'm sure he's well-meaning, well-intentioned, a good dancer, and so forth, but let's not pretend that his description of religion is remotely grounded in reality. What he's done is to take a word and then redefine it to suit his own purposes.

In terms of philosophical arguments, what he presents is full of false dichotomies and straw men. I'm not going to get too much into that, as there is already a wonderful analysis posted over at Aggie Catholics. I suggest everyone read it, especially since this video is a good example of an intellectual plague ravaging the world, namely, that the Humpty Dumpty Syndrome is a valid method for arguing a point.

Anyways, I'm pointing out a different problem with this message. Oddly enough, the current en vogue trashing of "religion" by Protestants tends to avoid looking at what the Bible says about the topic. Weird, huh? I wonder why that is. Let's take a look.

First, a quick Bible search will note that the word "religion" is used thirteen times over the entirety of Scripture. Four of those are from books that Protestant found inconvenient and cut out of their own Bibles, so I can get how they might have missed those. I will reproduce this one for the Catholics here since it comes from the book so popular in the Early Church that it was called Ecclesiasticus ("of the Church").

Treat not with a man without religion concerning holiness, nor with an unjust man concerning justice, nor with a woman touching her of whom she is jealous, nor with a coward concerning war, nor with a merchant about traffic, nor with a buyer of selling, nor with an envious man of giving thanks

Sirach 37:12

Religion doesn't sound bad there, does it? In fact, we're instructed not to discuss holiness with someone who lacks religion. But hey, not every Christian has this treasure at their disposal. So what about the other 9 uses of "religion"?

Two are from Esther (8:17/9:27). Of those two, one is a reference to paganism and one is talking about Judaism. Another mention is in Leviticus 16:31, which is also pointing to Judaism.

There is a disturbing trend among Christians to discount the Old Testament as though none of it matters. Let's try to keep in mind here that, prior to the Incarnation, only the Jews worshiped the True God. Only the Jews had the True Faith. Everybody else?

For all the gods of the Gentiles are devils

Psalm 95:5

Paul says much the same thing in 1 Corinthians 10. The point is that we should probably take what these Jews were saying seriously, mainly because, you know, they were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write it for Sacred Scripture. The references to Judaism in the Old Testament as a "religion" are good and positive. Got that? The Holy Spirit thinks that Old Testament Judaism, the religion, was a good thing. And how could it not be since it was given to them by God? I'll add here that this completely annihilates our spoken word friend's analysis of religion as man-made. We see from the Old Testament that religion can be of Divine origin.

Is there bad religion? Sure, since paganism is also called religion in Esther 8:17, and we know from Psalms that paganism is bad. Hence, bad religion.

Naturally, the argument will be that this Old Testament stuff stopped being valid at the Advent of Christ. So maybe religion used to be good, just not anymore. So let's look at how religion is discussed in the New Testament.

Four of the six uses are by Paul. In Acts 26:5 and Galatians 1:13-14, he's again referencing Judaism. These are in less than glowing terms, as he is speaking of his conversion and prior life as a Pharisee. He brings religion up again in Colossians 2:18. Here, he's cautioning his readers against the religion of angel-worship. So all the NT contexts of religion thus far are negative, with some referring to Paul's status as an unconverted Jew (who had the worship of the True God taken away from them and delivered to Christians) and another to what is basically paganism.

So what's left? What's left is James 1:26-27, which are the crux of this post. Verse 26 reads:

And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

Wait a minute. So you can think you are religious, but your religion can be in vain. So that means that there's some religion that's not in vain, right? Absolutely, as is seen in Verse 27:

Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation: and to keep one's self unspotted from this world.

So religion is good. It just has to be the right religion. We can go on to argue about what it means to keep oneself unspotted and so forth, but that's beyond the scope of this post. All we wanted to do here is show that denouncing religion is un-Biblical and stripping words of their meanings and recasting them in one's own image is dishonest.

Jesus fought against hypocritical jerks. He didn't fight against religion. After all, He founded one that is clean and undefiled. Just ask James. Don't ask the guy in the video. He doesn't even know what the word means.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quick! Go Check Out Google!

Today's Google theme is for Blessed Nicholas Steno, convert, bishop, and scientist. Can't say that I saw that one coming. Good to see some nice publicity for a little known Catholic of fairly great significance. He was a pioneer in the fields of geology (mostly) and anatomy (not so mostly). His work also serves as a good riposte for the wide swaths of whackjobs who assert that the Church is somehow anti-science.

Blessed Nicholas Steno, pray for us!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


A bit of rambling today. That happens when I try to think.

Ever notice how people seem to always say that they tales of redemption but they don't really seem to like redemption itself? Let me use comic books as an example here.

There are some levels of spoiler-dom ahead, but the stories are so old that I should be on solid ground in relating their details.

You may, for example, be aware of the Dark Phoenix Saga in X-Men lore. If you are basing your thoughts on the horror that was X-Men: The Last Stand, please banish those ideas from your mind now. In the real (ie- comic book) version of the story, Jean Grey was driven insane by the nigh-omnipotent powers she received as Phoenix. This resulted in her destroying a sun, which in turn killed billions of innocent aliens. Sure, she eventually recovered, but there was this left-over problem of what to do with a character that had such a terrible crime on her hands. Most people know that the ending originally proposed for this story arc had Jean losing her powers, with that being about it. However, Jim Shooter, Marvel's editor-in-chief, didn't like this. Given the magnitude if Jean's crimes, she had to be punished a bit more severely. Allegedly, this meant being exiled to what amounted to Cosmic Hell. A compromise position was reached with the writers where her sentence was commuted to simple execution. And that's what happened.

Years later, it was revealed that the Jean Grey who went all murdery wasn't even the real Jean Grey. I won't get into the details, but my point is that the consensus seemed to be that the only way Jean could return was to completely exonerate her from having killed all those aliens.

The same thing happened with Hal Jordan, aka Green Lantern. DC wanted to go in another direction with the character, probably more in the name of hipsterism than anything else. Their story to do this involved destroying Hal's hometown. This drove him insane, which led to his declaring war on the Guardians of the Universe and his fellow Green Lanterns. After massacring them all, he steals their power and attempts to annihilate the entire universe.

The DC folks, apparently noting that this wasn't a very good way to give such a venerable hero his send-off, tried to rehabilitate Hal's image by having him sacrifice himself to save the planet in an event called The Final Night. Even that didn't work. People still just remembered Hal as the psycho who killed all those Green Lanterns and a lot of other people along the way to trying to end the universe. They even tried literally casting him as "The Spirit of Redemption" for a while. That didn't work either.

Their response? Basically the same thing that happened with Jean Grey. See, Hal Jordan didn't really make for all that havoc. It was an evil being called Parallax, who grafted itself to Jordan's soul and mind-controlled him into all that badness. Again, real redemption was deemed impossible. Hal had to be removed from the situation entirely.

Where am I going with this? I just struck me last night how cynical society can be. We aren't really all that willing to forgive and forget even the slightest faults or evils from others. It doesn't have to be inter-galactic genocide. Just standard rudeness or irritability seem enough these days to write somebody off, regardless of the efforts they give to make amends. For criminals, there seems to be a lot more of a push for life imprisonment or capital punishment with every offense. Maybe it's just my neck of the woods, but it seems that way. We are much more apt to seek vengeance than justice, I think.

More than that, we seem to have lost the concept of expiation. Please don't read this as an argument against the death penalty or punishing criminals in other ways. It's the motives behind the punishments that are the problems. If nobody considers the hope that a person may actually achieve redemption, they definitely aren't going to see the value in expiation. The crime is the crime is the crime. The punishment is just our own personal satisfaction at seeing somebody get theirs. This is a dangerous way to be and is probably more a function of pride than anything else. Ultimately, we all deserve to be damned and should consider redemption and expiation a bit more seriously than we do.

In the words of Will Munny, "We all got it comin'"

Monday, January 9, 2012

Public Service Annoucement

This has nothing to do with the Church per se. It is, however, to preserve the common good to the greatest extent possible. George Lucas is beginning to advertise the re-release of The Phantom Menace in 3-D format. It is currently scheduled for February 10.

You may be tempted to go see this movie. Flee from that temptation! Do not give this man any more of your money! Yes, I'm sure it would be a hardy penance, but that isn't worth making Lucas any richer. If you seek an alternate penance, try a cilice or hairshirt.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tireless Intercessor

There's a great documentary called Tireless Intercessor about the life and miracles of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos. It looks like we might have to chalk up another healing to his credit.

When Redemptorist Fr John Murray struck his head against a railing after tripping along a walkway 15 months ago, the consequences were devastating.

The Baltimore parish priest suffered a broken neck that left him immediately paralysed. Rushed to a hospital, he underwent emergency spinal cord surgery and later began rehabilitation.

Doctors said that Fr Murray, who was known across the east coast of America, for his preaching abilities, would almost certainly never walk again...

But on November 28 2010 Fr Murray did something everyone said was impossible. While living and undergoing rehabilitation at Stella Maris in Timonium, Maryland, he moved his left leg ever so slightly, lifting his foot off the ground.

“I was ecstatic,” Fr Murray said. “Here I was about six weeks after they told me I’d never move again and, lo and behold, I could move. Just the foot, but it kept going and going and going.”

Today Fr Murray is completely mobile. Using a Zimmer frame he is able to walk on his own at his new residence at St Clement Mission House in Ephrata.

Fr Murray sees only one explanation: an encounter with the miraculous. In his pocket he carries a small object with him at all times. Encased in a locket is a relic – a piece of bone – of Blessed Francis Seelos, a 19th-century Redemptorist priest under consideration for canonisation, who had been a rector of the same parish Fr Murray once led. “Ultimately, all prayers go to God. Seelos can’t give the grace, but he was the conduit for my prayers,” he said.

Dr Ernestine Wright, medical director of Stella Maris, said she was shocked by Fr Murray’s recovery and that she had never seen anything like it. A born-again Christian, Dr Wright said she believed it was miraculous.

I wonder what her opinion of the Church is. I'm sure there are more than a few Agent Scullys out there saying "Well, they did say that he 'almost' certainly wouldn't walk again. So he had a chance the whole time." When I hear those comments, I always think of that scene from Dumb and Dumber where Jim Carrey asks Lauren Holly if he has any chance of being with her. She tells him it's about one in a million, and he's thrilled to know that there's a chance.

Anyways, it's good thing to get the positive stories out there. I try not to let stuff here get overly gloomy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I've Always Hated The New Orleans Saints

Despite being from Louisiana, I've just always despised them. This priest gave me another reason for doing so back when they won the Super Bowl.

I'm so glad that this parish and priest felt the need to bring celebrations of the profane into sacred space. And please, spare me the comments about how I don't understand. I'm from here. I understand perfectly. There are hordes of folks who have more respect for their NFL team than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. That's what is going on in this clip. It's disgusting but a great illustration of the two cities.

Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, "Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head." In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all.

St. Augustine, City of God

As for this weekend, Go Lions.

Prison = Easy; Monastery = Difficult

Pretty awesome when you see the prisoner confined to the monastery begging to get back into prison because the monks are too tough for him. Thanks to Fr. Z for the story.

A convicted criminal who was serving out his sentence in a monastery has escaped for the second time and asked to be sent back to prison because life was too tough.
Thief David Catalano, 31, was sent to a Santa Maria degli Angeli community run by Capuchin monks in Sicily last November.

But he found their austere lifetstyle too tough to handle and soon escaped. After a short while on the run he was caught by police and sent back.

On Monday he fled for the second time in six weeks, only to swiftly turn himself in at a police station and beg officers to send him back to jail in the nearby town of Nicosia.

Remember when this was pretty standard punishment for wayward prelates? I wish we could go back to this model, especially if it was run like these guys apparently run their monastery.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Another Plenary Indulgence

It's the first day of the year. Get to a church and say the Veni, Creator for your next plenary indulgence. Thanks again to Rorate.

§ 1. A plenary indulgence is granted to the Christian faithful who, in a church or in an oratory, are present [take part] in a recitation or solemn chant of:

1° the hymn Veni, Creator ... on the first day of the year, imploring divine assistance for the whole of the coming year...

If you need help with the words:

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest,
Vouchsafe within our souls to rest;
Come with Thy grace and Heav'nly aid
And fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

To Thee, the Comforter, we cry,
To Thee, the Gift of God Most High,
The Fount of life, the Fire of love,
The soul's Anointing from above.

The sev'nfold gifts of grace are Thine,
O Finger of the Hand Divine;
True Promise of the Father Thou,
Who dost the tongue with speech endow.

Thy light to evr'y thought impart,
And shed Thy love in evr'y heart;
The weakness of our mortal state
With deathless might invigorate.

Drive far away our wily Foe
And Thine abiding peace bestow;
If Thou be our protecting Guide,
No evil can our steps betide.

Make Thou to us the Father known,
Teach us the eternal Son to own,
And Thee, whose name we ever bless,
Of both the Spirit, to confess.

Glory to Thee, Father and Son
And Holy Spirit, with them One;
And may the Son on us bestow
The gifts that from the Spirit flow!

Things More Important Than New Year's Day

1. It's Sunday. This is the Lord's Day, and He has a right to be worshiped on this day in particular. It's also still a day of rest. In other words, all of your clean-up from any partying last night is going to have to wait until tomorrow.

2. Even if it wasn't Sunday, it would be the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. The fact that it's on New Year's Day has caused a lot of people to ignore what this day is all about. Of all Our Lady's gifts, including the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, her Divine Maternity is the greatest. As Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange spells out, this gift is of the hypostatic order since it is basically the gift of the Incarnation. Not to mention that the graces of the other gifts flow from her dignity in this role.

I think it's pretty critical that we re-capture the meaning behind this Feast. Infiltration of the New Age movement has led to some people around here making some very confused statements about Christ's person that sound an awful lot like some kind of neo-Nestorianism. It's a bizarre thing. It's not that these folks are rejecting the Truth on purpose. They've just had their ears tickled. That doesn't make it any less blasphemous, though.

Read the Council of Ephesus. Think about what it means for the Blessed Mother to be the Theotokos. Not just for her, but for Jesus as well.

Oh, and Happy New Year as well, I guess.