Saturday, March 31, 2012

Zenit Picks Up A Story On Cristiada

Or For Greater Glory, or whatever they are calling it now. The article/review has a couple of interesting points.

First, the movie apparently covers that General Gorostieta was not exactly a devout Catholic. I'll be interested to see how they handle this, given that there were a wide range of Cristiada leaders who were and arguably had a more compelling story around them (eg- Jesus Degollado, who was a pharmacist before he took the Cross).

Second, the reviewer states that:

One weakness of the film, however, is that it lacks adequate character and plot formation at the beginning. It’s not clear why the government becomes so anti-clerical and antagonistic toward the Church. Mexico’s then-President, Plutarco Elías Calles, appears in the film to arbitrarily loathe the Church simply because he’s an atheist, but little other explanation is given.

The omission possibly owes itself to the complex and intricate politics that preceded the Cristero War. In short, the 1910 Mexican Revolution led to an increase in Marxist anticlericalism, made worse by the fact that the Church hierarchy later lent its support to a counterrevolutionary called Victoriano Huerta.

Except that there is more than a little white-washing going on in that critique. To root all of this in Huerta's activities is to ignore most of Mexican history from beforehand. I advise the book Blood-Drenched Altars by Fr. Francis Kelley for a good overview. Or we can just ask former Mexican president Vincente Fox why the persecution occurred:

After 1917, Mexico was led by anti-Catholic Freemasons who tried to evoke the anticlerical spirit of popular indigenous President Benito Juárez of the 1880s. But the military dictators of the 1920s were a more savage lot than Juárez.

So, yeah, it was in the works way before 1910. Let's face it, though. Nobody expected to see this movie be blunt about the fact that the persecution that led to the Cristiada was part of a Masonic scheme to destroy the Church. Given that there was no way in hell they were going to lay blame where it was deserved, I think I can look beyond some alleged lack of plot formation.

Third, it looks like we aren't going to see anything regarding the evidence that Calles's troops were fighting with arms from America.

Fourth, the article brings up how the Cristiada has been 1984'd out of the Mexican history books.

Remarkably, as the revolutionary party went on to rule Mexico for the next 70 years, details of the conflict were largely hidden from many Mexicans. “We never knew about it, it’s not in the official curriculum of the schools,” said Juan A. Mercado, a native of Mexico City and associate professor of modern philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. “We learned about it through family, or at university you’d hear a bit about it. It was a taboo, the state didn’t want it known and yet it was a huge movement in the country."

The movie also contains occasional moments of humor and, largely through exchanges between General Gorostieta and various other characters, the movie acts as a kind of catechesis by explaining the importance and meaning of the Christian faith. For [film producer Pablo Jose] Barroso, who is in real estate rather than film production, this was a significant motive for making the picture, but also a challenge.

“It’s necessary to show that everyone is searching for faith, but they don’t know where or how to find it, then they read about this story,” he told me. “I thought that it’s amazing that even Mexicans don’t know about it, and that pushed me into doing this.”

How extraordinary. With a couple of more months to go, I wonder if/when we'll start to see some more mainstream buzz.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

More Lenten Thoughts From More

From an apologetics standpoint, I must admit that I'd never considered his points here before:

Re: the bit in Luke's Gospel about an angel coming to strengthen Christ during the Agony in the Garden (Luke 22:43):

Do you realize how intense His mental anguish must have been, that an angel should come from heaven to strengthen Him?

But when I consider this passage, I cannot help wondering what pernicious nonsense has gotten into the heads of those who contend that it is futile for anyone to seek the intercession of any angel or departed saint, namely, on the grounds that we cannot confidently address our prayers to God Himself, not only because He alone is more present to us than all the angels and all the saints put together but also because He has the power to grant us more, and a greater desire to do so, than any of the saints in heaven, of whatever description.

With such trivial and groundless arguments as these, they express their envious displeasure at the glory of the saints, who are in turn equally displeased with such men; for they strive to undermine the loving homage we pay to the saints and the saving assistance they render to us. Why should these shameless men not follow the same line of reasoning here and argue that the angel's effort to offer consolation to our Savior Christ was utterly pointless and superfluous? For what angel of them all was as powerful as He Himself or as near to Him as God, since He Himself was God? But in fact, just as He wished to undergo sadness and anxiety for our sake, so too for our sake He wished to have an angel console Him, for a number of reasons: both to refute the foolish arguments of such men and to make it clear that He was truly man (for just as angels ministered to Him as God when He had triumphed over the temptations of the devil, so too an angel came to console Him as man while He was making His lowly progress toward death) and, moreover, to give us hope that if we direct our prayers to God when we are in danger, we cannot lack consolation- always provided we do not pray in a lazy and perfunctory way, but rather imitate Christ in this passage by sighing and praying from the bottom of our hearts.

Friday, March 23, 2012

That's Exactly What I Was Thinking

Msgr. Bux has written a letter to Bishop Fellay urging the SSPX to accept the Holy Father's terms for regularization. He pretty much lays it out as we've discussed here many times. Hopefully, calmer heads will prevail and the Society will have the faculties and autonomy to do some good. I think it's pretty clear they've reached their limit with what they are doing now. You can read the whole letter at Rorate, but I highlight the following bit for your consideration at the moment:

It is undeniable that numerous facts of Vatican II and of the period that followed it, related to the human dimension of this event, have represented true calamities and have caused intense pain to many great Churchmen. But God does not allow His Holy Church to reach self-destruction.

We cannot consider the severity of the human factor without having confidence in the divine factor, that is to say, in Providence, who guides history and, in particular, the history of the Church, while respecting human freedom.

The Church is at once a divine institution, divinely protected, and a product of men. Her divine aspect does not deny her human one - personality and freedom - and does not necessarily hinder it; her human aspect, while remaining whole and even compromising, never denies her divine one.

For reasons of Faith, but also due to the confirmations, albeit slow ones, that we are able observe at the historical level, we believe that God has prepared and continues to prepare, throughout these years, men who are worthy of rectifying the errors and the ommissions we all deplore. Holy works already exist, and will appear in still greater numbers, that are isolated ones from the others but that a divine strategy links at a distance and whose actions add up to a well-ordered design, as it miraculously happened at the time of the painful Lutheran rebellion...

The Holy Father's heart trembles: he awaits you anxiously because he loves you, because the Church needs you for a common profession of faith before a world that is each day more secularized and that seems to turn its back to its Creator and Savior hopelessly.

In the full ecclesial communion with the great family that is the Catholic Church, your voice will no longer be stifled, your contribution will be neither ignorable nor ignored, but will be able to bring forth, with that of so many others, abundant fruits which would otherwise go to waste...


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cristiada = For Greater Glory

Is it just me, or did they tone down the religious aspects in this new trailer?

For a comparison, here's the original for your review. Doesn't matter much, I guess. Still looks pretty awesome. We're still hearing that June 1 is the release date.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Attack On Priests

A lot of stuff has been going on lately that reminded us of the novel Windswept House by Malachi Martin. If you haven't read it, don't do it unless you are prepared to be pretty horrified by how real so many of the events in the book have turned out to be. One of Martin's themes was how good priests are persecuted by the Lavender Mafia types within the hierarchy. This now appears to be the latest element of the book that is coming to the forefront.

I don't know the writers of this particular blog, but enough of the stories are public now to where you can probably given them some credence. Anyways, they list several stories of priests who have been or are currently being attacked for no apparent reason other than their adherence to Catholic teaching.

If anyone can shed some additional light on these stories, I would much appreciate it. And pray for all those involved.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Updates On The SSPX

I'm in a bit of a hurry, so I'm just going to link to the discussion at Rorate. Big news, but no cause for alarm, really. Read the whole thing, as it is a good example of why a lot of the popular reporting on this isn't to be trusted.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Coming Of AmChurch

Right now, there seems to be a lot of Catholic solidarity and WooHoo-ing here in the US. "The bishops are getting it!" "The Church is finally taking a stand!"

And so forth. There are perfectly good reasons for this response. However, I feel compelled to throw in a bit of cold water.

In these types of scenarios, there's almost always a Judas. What sort of effect he has is admittedly variable, but it's tough to think that the ranks will stay completely closed, especially after so many years of accommodation and surrender. People get habituated to that sort of thing, so for someone to break, it might not even be out of real malice or fear. It's just how things have been done.

We should all be prepared for somebody to play the role of "courageous dissent" (for that is how the media will portray him/them), and stab the Mystical Body of Christ in the back. And once one does, I'm afraid that others will follow. Maybe not a bunch of other bishops, but some laity will. Think Old Catholics or the Polish National Church.

As part of Lent, I'm getting a double dose of Thomas More. First, from the aforementioned Sadness of Christ written by the saint. Second, from Walker Percy in the form of the saint's namesake in the novel Love in the Ruins. In the latter work, a bad Catholic is reflecting on the state of the Church in a rather dystopian future state. There's a small remnant of the real Church that remains loyal to Rome. Then there are the Dutch schismatics, who are pretty much the Old Catholics who "value relevance but not God." the other group is the American Catholic Church which has its headquarters in Cicero, IL. They celebrate things like the Feast of Property Rights and play the national anthem when the Host is elevated.

I'm thinking Percy was prophetic here. This final outcome, though obviously satirical, looms very large now, I think. I don't think it can be reasonably denied that a de facto schism has existed in America for some time. All it will take is one bishop with sufficient pride to take the step that will change the status from de facto to de jure. My question is what will that step be.

So readers: what do you think? The following seem the most plausible options:

1. "Contraception is awesome."
2. "I now pronounce you husband and husband/wife and wife."
3. "Arise, Bishop Joan."

Am I missing anything? What do you think is most likely?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Not To Become Catholic

This was funny because it's true. If you are a Protestant reader and are looking for ways to avoid becoming Catholic, James Tonkowich has some advice for you. He's a convert and ex-Protestant minister, so he offers some good insight on the things that really set him down the path to Rome. My wife, a non-denominational convert who flirted with Orthodoxy for a long time, heartily endorses his views.

The main points are:

Assume that all Catholics are idiots.
Get all information on the Catholic faith second hand.
Avoid Being “Deep in History”
Do Not Read the Church Fathers
Affirm “The Great Tradition,” but Don’t Ask What’s Included in the Great Tradition

These are invaluable to anyone who wants to stay Protestant.

Make sure you read both installments because they are quite enlightening, as well as timely. I especially enjoyed this:

Which brings up another inconvenient truth. The Reformation allowed the rulers of Europe to achieve what generations of kings yearned for: the total subjugation of the Church to the state. As long as the Church was one and centered in Rome, it served as a counterweight to the domineering aspirations of the state. Controlling the Catholic Church proved exceedingly difficult. But once the Church was reformed and shattered into bite-sized bits, controlling the bits was child’s play.

Cuius regio, eius religio (“Whose realm, his religion”) meant that the princes of Europe could and did make their churches into departments of government and their clergy into government bureaucrats. Membership in the national church became a mark, if not the defining mark, of patriotism. Kings appointed bishops and other church leaders who became his ecclesiastical lap dogs. And dissenters, be they Catholics or free church Protestants, were persecuted and/or treated as second-class citizens in some cases well into the nineteenth century.

Unfortunately, we're probably about to have a pretty hardcore revisiting of this lesson very soon.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Funniest Thing I've Read In A While

What is the biggest threat facing the Anglican Church these days. Forget the last five centuries. Just focus on the Reign of Rowan and the ongoing Death March. Of all the crap that the Anglicans have heaped on themselves in recent years, the true menace is now revealed. The ultimate annihilation of all that is Anglican. The thing that the Anglican Communion should fear most is...


The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, who leads the 26 bishops who sit in the House of Lords, tells The Sunday Telegraph that David Cameron’s policy to end Britain’s 300-year-old succession laws risks overturning the Church’s constitutional role...

He argued that the Prime Minister’s plans to repeal the ban on the monarch being married to a Catholic posed a serious potential risk. Currently the Queen is required to take on the role of Supreme Governor of the Church of England — making it the established Church. But the bishops said that it would be impossible for a Catholic monarch to have that role.


Yeah, Tim. That's what you have to worry about. Some papist on the throne. Pay no attention to the fact that the AC is pretty much shattered as it is.

I'll give him credit. He at least has some concerns about homosexual marriage as well, but come on. Has this guy been asleep for the last decade or so? Does he know who Gene Robinson and Katherine Schori are? And hey, at least he notices that a Catholic as Supreme Governor of the Church of England makes no sense. But is that even a role any more? What the hell has Queen Elizabeth done in such a capacity?

I know that I laugh above, but this is a great example of the shambling wreck that the Anglican Church is these days. This cry for relevance, as though there is still a real spirit inhabiting the ecclesial corpse, is probably way more sad than I'm acknowledging. Maybe this longing for some kind of reality in their religion will lead more to take advantage of Anglicanorum Coetibus. After all, we know where the Barque of Henry currently resides.

Some just don't realize it yet.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cristiada Update

We previously mentioned this movie almost a year ago. There is some scuttlebutt that it will now be released June 1 of this year. I think it goes without saying that this is very timely considering recent events here in the US.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Unbelievable

How many times have you heard something like, "I just can't believe that God thinks/cares about _____________"?

I'm hearing it a lot these days what with all the contraception talk and such. It's an odd statement. For a moment, let's ignore the inherent confusion the speaker exhibits in saying that just because they don't believe something it automatically isn't so. Also, let's not ask where the speaker derives their authority for being able to claim to know God's mind (which, granted, they may or may not do in this scenario), as if they somehow possess some sort of special charism, while those promoting the opposing viewpoint don't.

Instead, let's take a moment to reflect on just what the limits of the believable actually are.

We'll have to begin by pretending that there is such a thing as an "average Christian." Typically, you would envision someone for whom a certain set of beliefs are mandatory. Take the following items as exemplary: there is a God; He has intervened in human history, initially via the selection of a particular race of people as His own; He later intervened in the most radical way possible, namely, by assuming the inferior nature of one of His creations; He lived with this inferior nature for 33 years, while still managing to stay God the whole time; He allowed Himself to be tortured and killed because of all the bad things His creations had done. That's not even getting into some more peculiar items such as getting our bodies back at the Last Judgment, the presence of evil spirits trying to make us do bad things, the ability of water and an invocation of God to have a spiritual effect, and so forth.

The aforementioned average Christian will claim to have no difficulty believing these things, so I suppose that we can chalk these up to what is believable. Now, consider the alternative items that are often disregarded as unbelievable: God set up a/the Church with a hierarchy of authority; it's possible for the pastor/Pope to be guided by God to teach a/the Church properly; we are supposed to love our enemies; certain sorts of activities fall into the category of sin (ie- those things God became man to die for); individuals do not determine what pleases or offends God.

Taking for granted the initial group of propositions as being readily accepted, does the second group really look like stuff that should qualify as unbelievable?

"I just can't believe that God thinks contraception is a sin."

Really? You just can't believe that? Take the statement at face value. Do not read things into it. This isn't about someone who just doesn't believe in the authority of the Church, and then proceeds to reject certain of Her teachings. This is the bold incredulity that God would even pass judgment on such things. In fact, if you press a lot of folks on this, the above statement is often the total argument against why the speaker rejects the Church's authority in the first place.

Maybe it's the Sauron in me, but I have a much harder time grappling with the idea that the Almighty God lowered Himself to take on the rather puny and wretched nature of Man. Not only that, but then He let people make fun of Him, beat Him up, torture Him, and then nail Him to a big piece of wood so that He would die the most painful death possible. And the murderers laughing about it the whole time.

Perhaps I'm getting cynical or whatever. It's just a funny thing to hear, and I'm hearing it more and more these days.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sacrilege In Ireland

You try not to think about why these folks do these sorts of things. It probably doesn't matter. Whatever it is, it's probably way worse than anything I could come up with anyway.

Officials at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin say they're distraught and perplexed over the theft of the church's most precious relic: the preserved heart of St. Laurence O'Toole.

O'Toole was Dublin's archbishop from 1162 to 1180. His heart has been displayed in the cathedral since the 13th century, stored in a wooden box and secured in an iron cage.

Police say someone cut through the cage Saturday and stole the relic in its heart-shaped container. They're studying closed-circuit TV footage but have arrested nobody.

Everybody pray for this demented soul and do some acts of reparation for the sacrilege.

Friday, March 2, 2012

More On That Other Other War

More stories are coming out about the wrangling within the Curia. This is another one from Vatican Insider via Rorate. The thrust of this is about the faction(s) that have aligned against Cardinal Bertone and the lengths which they are willing to go in order to get rid of him. I suggest everyone read the Rorate analysis.

Regardless of what you think about Cardinal Bertone, there don't seem to be any angels in this battle because the end result of their squabbles is an increased difficulty for the Pope. The man's job is hard enough without all this going on, and if the report is right, their decision to air +Bertone's (or any prelate's) dirty laundry is not helping.

To appreciate this a bit more, I return to a point made in our previous post on this issue. This is unprecedented stuff for the Curia to take their internal conflicts into the public eye. Did anybody raise their hands like this against guys like Cardinals Sodano, Casaroli, or Villot? Nobody that I know of.

It's a weird time.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

In Case You Think The Mandate Is Just A Catholic Issue

Take a look a Cardinal George's recent comments in his column:

This year, the Catholic Church in the United States is being told she must “give up” her health care institutions, her universities and many of her social service organizations. This is not a voluntary sacrifice. It is the consequence of the already much discussed Department of Health and Human Services regulations now filed and promulgated for implementation beginning Aug. 1 of this year...

What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.

Given historical trends on these issues, you can bet that #4 is the most likely. Take a look around your area. How many Catholic institutions are providing vital public services, whether health care, education, or something else? Rest assured, if the Catholic hospital system shuts down, all hell is going to break loose in this nation's health care delivery system.

Of course, when you understand that this is precisely what the president and his cronies want, things make a lot more sense.