Monday, April 30, 2012

Be Careful What You Ask For

Remember all the folks in Wisconsin fomenting dissent against Bishop Morlino for daring to bring in orthodox priests? At the time, the Catholic school there was in danger of closing. This came at a time when the dissenters had curbed their donations to try and force Bishop Morlino's hand. The financial hardships worsened.

Guess what happened?

The staggering thing about this is that some have the temerity to blame His Excellency for this situation. What an incredible amount of hubris.

Bishop Morlino sent a letter to his flock explaining the situation. Initially, I wasn't really sure why that was necessary. After donations dropped by half, a petition was signed 40% of the people to have the priests removed, and basically having this minority of lay people attempt to extort their Shepherd into going after these priests for no reason other than being Catholic, I figured the scenario was pretty black and white. Not so, some of the parishioners:

“There’s almost shock and awe,” said Myron Tranel, a member of the church’s finance council. “But mostly, there’s a lot of disappointment that the bishop has decided to deal with it this way.”

Yeah, Myron. I'm betting that Bishop Morlino was disappointed at how the dissenters decided to deal with it, too.

It turns out that there's a bit more to it. The letter His Excellency sent had a bit more to it than just announcing that the school would close.

The priests who have come to serve you have themselves admitted that they undertook some changes in a way that was abrupt for many people. This resulted in some instability, misunderstandings, and hurt – all of this I heard about at our recent meeting and in many letters. Those feelings are not insignificant, and action should be taken to bring a return to stability, increase understanding, and heal the hurt – the priests know this and I encourage them once again to apply themselves to these actions. 

But from where can firm stability, true understanding, and real healing come? It can come only from Jesus Christ. It is only Jesus, and the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church which He founded that can be the vessels of stability, understanding, and healing. I have no doubt that Fr. Faustino and Fr. John will provide Jesus Christ, the teachings of His Church, and the Sacraments.

So the priests demonstrate some humility and offer something of an apology. What of the laity involved? We know Myron noted some disappointment. I wonder if it was followed by contrition. Anyways, here's the second best part:

From the beginning, some have claimed that the priests I sent do not teach according to the precepts of the Church and, particularly, as restated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. I repeatedly responded to these claims by asking for concrete examples to be given of any straying from the doctrine and discipline of the Church. It is my duty to ensure that the authentic teaching of the Church is handed on, and I stand ready to make corrections where needed. To this date, however, I’ve received no examples of teaching or practice contrary to the teachings of the Church. I have received examples of permissible differences in style, and, as I mentioned above, I’ve received examples of human errors, which resulted in relational hurts. I have every confidence that your priests continue to stand ready to resolve any personal issues you might have. But I’ve not received a single substantiated claim of false teaching or of a liturgical violation. I am still open to receiving claims of such correctable errors (with suitable reference to the proper documents).

Of course, somebody had to throw out the "this isn't what Vatican II said." In response, Bishop Morlino called BS and made the accusers pick up all the cards. Apparently, this was a typical case of folks having no idea what VII said, taught, or considered. Note the confidence of the bishop at the end where he continues to dare someone to offer a concrete example.

I think, however, that at the end of the day, the Catholic faith is being taught according to the proper understanding of the Second Vatican Council, and that what remains are personal likes and dislikes, along with inflated rumors and gossip, some of which may even rise to the level of calumnious inciting of hatred of your priests, the faith, and myself. For these likes and dislikes, gossip, and hurt feelings, the Catholic faith is rejected and a school is closed.

Strong stuff. But still not the best part. Now here's the best part:

This, tragically, is where we are today. In charity and in justice, I must caution you most strongly that this cannot continue. I do this now in sincere hopes of avoiding the issuance of Canonical warnings in the days ahead. Attached to this communication, is a list of texts upon which I would ask you to reflect prayerfully. I have a responsibility to do what I can to foster stability, understanding, and healing in your community, so that the Gospel message of Jesus Christ can shine forth. Where there are women and men of good will ready to renew their efforts in this regard, I believe that stability, understanding, and healing can come. Where there are individuals who do not truly seek the good, and who even work actively against it, where there are those who work to incite hatred, there may need to be more formal warning and action.

Make sure you catch all that. A bishop is putting in writing that he is willing to go to the wall on this issue. It's an actual threat of ecclesiastical discipline. He even attached the appropriate canons to the letter to make sure the message gets across. I can't help but applaud. My own parish is on its 7th priest in the last 20 years or so. They've varied in orthodoxy, administrative competence, and pastoral sensibilities. Let me just say that these good Fathers here are nowhere close to as bad as I've seen it from others. It never would have crossed my mind, even for the most incompetent and even borderline heretical ones, to threaten the existence of an entire school in order to extort action from the bishop. Writing letters to the CDF or CDW? Sure. Even moving to another parish? Fine. I just don't think I would be willing to sacrifice a resource like a school. That's just assuming all this is true. Lying about priests is serious stuff, and I doubt that those involved realize just how much so.

I doubt this is over, despite Bishop Morlino's exhortations to charity. You can tell by the comments to the articles linked that there is a definite odor of schism in the air. Let us hope that His Excellency will stay strong  in his commitments here. Let's hope even more that this is the end of it, that the people will once more gather around their bishop, and that they will be able to re-open their  school. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

John Paul II

While I probably don't know my readership as well as I should, I have a pretty good feeling that this post is going to be unpopular. This weekend, I finished reading
Keys of This Blood by Malachi Martin. It was an interesting book from several angles and something that I think even non-Catholics would appreciate simply from its historical perspectives on the development of international relations, specifically from the birth of the Soviet Union till the 90s.

As a Catholic, I naturally found the more intriguing parts to be the windows into Blessed John Paul II's mindset as he (and the rest of us) endured the continuing collapse of the Faith during his pontificate. It also serves to highlight some of the remarkable contrasts between JPII and the current Vicar of Christ. For example, Martin presents JPII as pretty much certain that Europe was a lost cause for re-invigorating Catholicism. This explains the enormous resources dedicated to Africa and Asia during his reign. Pope Benedict, on the other hand, has clearly made the re-evangelization of Europe a priority. Also surprising were the hints Martin would later flesh out in greater detail in Windswept House, while at the same time including the Legionnaires of Christ as one of the faithful bulwarks of the Church.

Watching the explanations of some of John Paul II's more controversial actions was quite interesting. Per Martin, the Holy Father was convinced that a celestial event was imminent that would alter the course of the world in the favor of the Church against Her enemies. Reading between the lines a bit, I would guess this event was the rumored Warning that would precede the oft-prophesied Chastisement. Needless to say, that didn't happen, so it's difficult to say how the Pope's gamble is to be understood at this point. What you wind up with is a picture of the Pope that is very sympathetic, while still engaging in some criticism.

It is a favorite past time of a lot of Catholics these days to bash the previous Successor of Peter. I'm not talking about the media types who rip him for not ordaining women, saying contraception is bad, and condemning abortion. What we're talking about here are the "conservative," "traditionalist," or whatever critiques associated with Assisi and the like. Without delving into the validity of those critiques, I've got to submit the following for consideration.

More and more, I'm encountering the new crop of priests. They tend to be militantly orthodox. I'm not talking about the bare minimum "I believe in the Trinity" orthodoxy. I'm talking about "contraception is evil," "Hans Kung is a heretic," "EENS," "offering TLMs" orthodoxy. To a man, they claim Blessed John Paul II as their inspiration for the priesthood. Sure, he affected their discernment to the priesthood in varying ways, but they are all positive ways. Nobody says that they signed up because they felt the Pope was screwing up the Church.

Whether the aforementioned group of Catholics wants to admit it, this is what we will ultimately remember JPII for, I think. The Average Joe Pewsitter has never heard of the Assisi meetings. They have no clue about odd events at papal liturgies or kissing the Koran. It's not remotely on their radar screen. The priests I'm talking about know of these things, though admittedly some didn't at the time they entered seminary or even for some time after they were ordained. The thing to realize is that when they did find out, they didn't get discouraged or abandon their calling. Instead, they doubled down. The limits of papal authority/infallibility, not to mention regular old human weakness, did not shatter their faith or their fidelity. We could all learn from this. I know; everything I said is anecdotal. That doesn't make it untrue.

Sure, it's bad these days, but at least we aren't dealing with the Great Western Schism or similar event. Yet. All I'm saying here is that, for all his failings, I think JPII's influence has stocked the shelves of the priesthood with a lot of guys that we're going to be very thankful that we have in the coming years. Remember that the next time you hear someone ripping into him.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

God And Beauty

There was once a time when beauty was identified with God. In fact, beauty was a proof for God, as Karl noted in the comments to this old post. This may seem just a re-hashing of that old entry, but I just wanted to provide another example of how odd society's treatment of beauty is in its relation to God.

It would make sense that music made for worship would be beautiful, right? It's music for God (allegedly), so I don't think I'm going to far afield to say that. It's why music that is distinctively Catholic sounds something like this:

Consider this contrast. Recently, I had the experience of being exposed to the music of a band known as Skillet. They are a Christian rock band and apparently are a big deal on the concert circuit, and their music is good for praise and worship sessions. Here is one of their more well-known efforts.

Missa Solemnis, it ain't. Now, this isn't a post ripping rock music. Or even Christian rock music. It's about how things being used for worship don't seem to have much bearing on concept of worship. There are a lot of words that might be used to describe the Skillet song above. I'm not sure how "beautiful" would be one of them. If a worship service neglects to include beauty as something to draw the minds of the worshipers towards God, isn't there something wrong there?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

From The Prior Post

I wanted to throw this out there for some folks. It's a piece by one of our sometimes commenters, Mr. Peter Reilly over on Forbes. The thing I identified with is the confusion over labels for feminism and women's liberation. In addition, there's the fact that you can find a certain convergence of views between some of those labels and the Church's perspectives on such topics. 

Most good discussions involve the ability of both sides to properly define their terms. Check out the article for a good example of why this is.

Another Contraception Prophecy

We've had discussions here before about how Humanae Vitae was prophetic. It's difficult even to listen to folks try and argue that Pope Paul was somehow wrong. Granted, he wasn't choosing the PowerBall numbers, but his predictions were so freaking dead-on that you have to be pretty blind not to acknowledge it.

This post from over on Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit even puts His Holiness's oracular powers to shame. It's quoting from a book called Birth Control by Fr. Stanislas de Lestapis, a signator of the pre-Humanae Vitae minority report. How about this for accuracy?

• “We do not hesitate to say that the acceptance of contraception will produce profound changes in our civilization, these changes are already taking place in countries that have officially endorsed contraception for one or two generations.”

• “Voluntary numerous families will progressively disappear, and the large family will tend to appear as a monstrosity.”

• “Populations and families which have deliberately become less creative will experience spiritual ageing and premature sclerosis.”

• “The idea and the ideal of family happiness will be downgraded in terms of a so-called right to happiness and of what people think are the ‘techniques’ of achieving it.”

• Morality among the young will deteriorate. The unmarried will be more licentious. The sexuality of women will lose its connection with marriage.”

• “There will be a grave change in the bond of love, due to the reversal of sexual function. It will remain fixed at an ‘adolescent’ stage. Society as a whole will slip into this ‘transitory’ stage.”

• “The maternal instinct will become sterile, due to the repression of the desire for children which is innate in women. There will be a silent hostility toward life and its first manifestations: pregnancy, childbirth and even sometimes towards dolls and babies.”

• “A new concept of sex, now essentially defined as ‘the capacity for erotic play for the sake of the couple,’ all reference to procreation now being only accidental.”

• “A growing tolerance of homosexual behavior, as erotic play that succeeds in expressing personal intimacy between friends or lovers.”

• “Finally, contraception will raise hopes which it cannot fulfill, and will give rise to frustrations and deep dissatisfactions, which will contribute to:

- The crisis of divorce and instability of modern marriages.

- The deterioration of mental health, and lack of sexual desire in women.

- The abdication of parents confronted by their task as educators.

- The ennui secreted by a civilization that is entirely centered on a comfortable way of life and sexual satisfaction.”

Now that, dear readers, is well-nigh creepy in nailing the last four decades or so. The only thing that is missing is a comment about how people will actually think these things are good or funny. For me, it's hard to imagine that society was ever not like this.

I'm terrified for what it's going to be like for my kids when they're my age.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Msgr. Gherardini On Cardinal Ottaviani's Humiliation

We've mentioned before how Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, the head of the Holy Office during Vatican II, was singled out as the dissenters' main adversary during the Council. Recently, Rorate ran a piece where Msgr. Gherardini recalled one of the early signs of how the conciliar proceedings were going to go, especially when it came to His Eminence's participation.

Whenever I think about the Council, I said, I always have one image in my mind: an aging Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, now blind, about age 80, limping, the head of the Holy Office and so the chief doctrinal officer of the Church, born in Trastevere to parents who had many children, so a Roman from Rome, from the people of Rome, takes the microphone to speak to the 2,000 assembled bishops.

And, as he speaks, pleading for the bishops to consider the texts the curia has spent three years preparing, suddenly his microphone was shut off. He kept speaking, but no one could hear a word. Then, puzzled and flustered, he stopped speaking, in confusion. And the assembled fathers began to laugh, and then to cheer...

"Yes," Gherardini said. "And it was only the third day." 

"What?" I said. 

"Ottaviani's microphone was turned off on the third day of the Council." 

"On the third day?" I said. "I didn't know that. I thought it was later, in November, after the progressive group became more organized..." 

"No, it was the third day, October 13, 1962. The Council began on October 11." 

"Do you know who turned off the microphone?" 

"Yes," he said. "It was Cardinal Lienart of Lille, France." 

"But then," I said, "it could almost be argued, perhaps, that such a breech of protocol, making it impossible for Ottaviani to make his arguments, somehow renders what came after, well, in a certain sense, improper..."  

"Some people make that argument," Gherardini replied.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pope Benedict Drawing The Line For Women Religious

The stereotype of the heretical nun who ditched her habit in order to promote abortion and women's ordination was never really funny, even though some folks have tried to present it that way. It looks like the Holy Father is looking to remedy some of the problems these heretics have created in the US. Good for him. Rocco Palma has the story:

Citing "serious doctrinal problems" found over the course of a four-year study of the umbrella-group representing the majority of the US' communities of nuns, the Holy See has announced a thoroughgoing shake-up of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), naming Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle as its delegate to conduct an overhaul of the group.

Among other concerns raised in an eight-page summary of the doctrinal inquest released today, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cited addresses at LCWR conferences that, it said, manifested a "rejection of faith," protests of church teaching on homosexuality and the ordination of women by officers of the group, and a "prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith" in some of the conference's events.

Bishops Sartain, Blair, and Paprocki will be the overseers for the review. It will be interesting to see how this goes. It's another one of those actions that makes you wonder what Pope Benedict is thinking. He's stirring up a lot of stuff lately. On another note, this kind of thing has happened before. Anybody remember Cardinal Dezza's enlistment to bring the Jesuits in line? Yeah, we saw how well that went.

It certainly can't hurt, though.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Seven Years

Ad Multos Annos!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

And Now, The Flood

Reports are going all over the place about the SSPX stuff.

We're going to keep our eyes open for anything of substance. In a nutshell, there has to be a clarification of the revision to the definition of the discussion of the dialogue regarding the SSPX's canonical status. As has been said elsewhere, there is still a process going on.

We will watch, wait, and pray.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

That Was Short-Lived

Rorate is carrying the latest report on the SSPX courtesy of Andrea Tornielli:

The response of the Society of Saint Pius X has arrived in the Vatican and it is positive: according to the informal information gathered by Vatican Insider, Bishop Bernard Fellay would have signed the doctrinal preamble that the Holy See had proposed last September as a condition to reach full communion and canonical regularization.

An official confirmation of the received response should take place in the next few hours. From what has been learned, the text of the preamble sent by Fellay proposed some non-substantial modifications regarding the version delivered by the Vatican authorities: as it may be recalled, the same Ecclesia Dei Commission had not willed to make the document (of [only] two, yet complex, pages) public, precisely because the possibility remained of introducing eventual small modifications which would not, nonetheless, distort its meaning.

The preamble contains, subtantially, the "professio fidei", the profession of faith [Rorate note 1] required of those who are put in charge of an ecclesiastical position. And it thus establishes a "religious submission of will and intellect" be given to the teachings that the Pope and the College of Bishops "enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium", even if not proclaimed and defined in a dogmatic sense, as in the case of the greater part of the magisterial documents. The Holy See has mentioned repeatedly to her partners in the Society of Saint Pius X that signing the doctrinal preamble would not mean putting and end "to the legitimate discussion, study, and theological explanations of specific expressions or formulations present in the documents of the Second Vatican Council."

The text of the preamble, with the modifications proposed by Fellay, and signed by him as Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X, will be presented to Benedict XVI, who, on the day following his 85th birthday and on the even of the seventh anniversary of his election, receives a positive response from the Lefebvrists. A response long expected and desired by him, who, in the next few weeks, will put an end to the wound opened in 1988 with the illegitimate episcopal ordinations celebrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

I haven't really appreciated Tornielli's reporting on this matter, especially his use of the term "Lefebvrists," but we feel that we're supposed to help get the word out on these things. Besides, this is good news. We need more of that these days.

The Most Recent Report

is that there is nothing to report. Rorate has been without any hard news on the SSPX front. Things are just quiet right now. A calm before the storm, maybe? I don't know, but between the possible regularization of the SSPX and the undying rumors about Cardinal Burke being tapped to replace Cardinal Levada at the CDF, things are certainly set up to get very interesting in a very big hurry.

I will add the following. Please continue to pray for the Holy Father. As many of you know, he just celebrated his 85th birthday. Hard to believe, but he is older than JPII was when he passed away. Read the following bit, which was gleaned from Rorate, and take into account what it must be like to be 85, holding the most important job in the world, and preparing to ride out what will probably be the biggest blow-up of your time doing said job. This is a guy speaking on his birthday.

We thank the good God because he has given us this light and we ask him that it may remain with us always. And on this day I have reason to thank Him and all those who once again have made me realize the presence of the Lord, who have stayed with me so that I would not lose the light.

I find myself before the last stage of my life's path, and I do not know what awaits me. I do know, however, that the light of God is here, that He is risen, that his light is stronger than any darkness; that the goodness of God is stronger than any evil in this world. And this helps me go forward in safety. It helps us move forward and, at this moment, I thank from the bottom of my heart all those who continuously make me perceive God's "yes" through their own faith.

Viva il Papa.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I Was A Teenaged Exorcist

aka: The Story of Bob Larson's Daughters

Check this out:

I'm not even sure where to begin here. Exorcisms at a sleep-over? Just "seeing it in their eyes"? The incredibly canned, scripted responses to the questions? Or maybe to pretend that I take them seriously and contemplate the sort of mind that thinks it's ok for children to indulge in this sort of activity, as though it's no different from playing softball or getting a driver's license?

This is the kind of thing that gives us all a bad name and is at least partially responsible for why folks don't take the demonic seriously anymore. Even if people get past the bad acting here so that they don't think it's a joke, why would anybody be worried about something that can be cleared up by Hannah Montana at her friend's sleep-over?

Friday, April 13, 2012


Rorate has the latest on the SSPX situation.

Rome and Écône on the verge of reaching an agreement
by Jean-Marie Guénois

Updated on April 13, 2012 20:37 (1837 GMT)| published April 13, 2012 19:45 (1745 GMT)

The signing of a document establishing the relations between the Holy See and the disciples of Abp. Lefebvre is a matter of days.

Officially, the Vatican awaits the response of Bp. Bernard Fellay, the chief of the Lefebvrists. As soon as it is received in Rome - "it is a matter of days, and no longer of weeks", - it will be immediately examined. If it conforms to expectations, the Holy See will very quickly announce a historic agreement with this group of faithful, known under the name of "integrists".

But unofficially, and with the greatest discretion, emissaries have worked, from both sides, to "reach an agreement". In the past few weeks, the final adjustments have been concluded between Rome and Écône in order to better respond to the demands of "clarifications" asked for by the Vatican last March 16...

Now, this is all one thing. It's not the most important thing in the article, though. This is the part that everyone should be paying the most attention to.

On Monday, Benedict XVI will reach 85. He is tired. His entourage do not hide this. He has had to rest this week in Castel Gandolfo from his exhausting voyage to Mexico and Cuba, then from the long services of Holy Week. He should be back in the Vatican on Friday evening. As a priority on his bureau: this decision on the Lefebvrist affair. It will be one of the weightiest of the pontificate...

But the true "revolution" that Benedict XVI intends to leave before the eyes of the history of the Catholic Church is elsewhere. It is not related to peripheral aspects of the Catholic Church. These have already enraged the groups opposed to this reconciliation. The so-called "Progressives" of the Conciliar Church who see the "gains" of Vatican II questioned. The "ultras" within the Lefebvrist ranks who see in this a betrayal and a compromise with Modernist Rome.

This revolution aims for an enlarged vision of the Catholic Church. Benedict XVI, the theologian, has never accepted that in 1962 the bimillennial Catholic Church would have cut herself from the culture and strength of her past. More than a reconciliation with the Lefebvrists, he aims, with this gesture, for a reconciliation of the Catholic Church with herself.

The Holy Father's health is apparently not good. It's natural for him to feel his own end approaching. Heaven knows that there has been enough news lately to bring it to his attention. He's been doing a lot lately. Initiating the SSPX's role as a real force in the Church would be his crowning achievement. He probably doesn't have much time left. Pray for the Pope's success. Pray that his enemies fail. Especially The Enemy, who no doubt still seeks to take Peter for his own.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Something You Don't See Every Day

But that you are beginning to see much more often:

Shame that I'm way too cynical these days to appreciate folks' efforts like this. I can't shake the feeling that the bulk of the faithful are going to take their 30 pieces of silver (in whatever form the current exchange rate allows) and sell out the Mystical Body of Christ for crucifixion.

Hopefully, I'll be wrong.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

If You Ever Wondered Whether Abortion Was Satanic

Consider this as a thought experiment.

Especially on Day 40.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sometimes, Being Right Is Bad

We've mentioned the problems with Russia here several times over the history of this blog. The nutshell version is that they just replaced a patriarch who was a KGB asset (Alexei II) with a guy who at least seems to be a sympathizer (Kiril). There was a lot of hope that this wouldn't be the case and that the relationship between Moscow and Rome would thaw a bit when all this happened, but that doesn't seem to be taking. How else are we supposed to take claims that Stalin's push to liquidate the Catholic Church in Ukraine was an ok? Given that Kiril is cozying up to Putin, what the world needs to prepare for is the return of Imperial Russia with the full backing of the biggest force in Orthodoxy behind it. This is not a good thing.

If you need evidence of this, check out this article.

Russia's Orthodox Church said on Tuesday it was under attack from unspecified "anti-Russian forces" seeking to erode its authority after it threw its weight behind Vladimir Putin before last month's presidential election.

The unusually strongly-worded statement listed a recent protest performance by an all-girl punk band in Moscow's main cathedral as well as media allegations against Patriarch Kirill as examples of such attacks.

"The attacks have become more prominent during the pre-election and post-election period, which shows their political and also anti-Russian motives," the Supreme Church Council said in a statement posted on its website.

The Council called on Orthodox Christians to come to cathedrals across Russia on April 22 for a nationwide prayer "in defense of the faith, desecrated sanctuaries, the Church and its good name".

The Church's unequivocal support for the ex-KGB spy has angered many members of the anti-Kremlin protest movement in Moscow and other large cities, who view it as political meddling and an abuse of the church's position in society.

Seen as a modernizing figure in the Russian church, the largest in Orthodox Christianity, Patriarch Kirill called the 12 years of Vladimir Putin's rule a "miracle of God" ahead of the March 4 election, which Putin won convincingly.

And I'm sure those elections were completely and totally legit. After all, why would anybody not trust Vlad Putin?

In recent years, state TV has given a much higher profile to the Church, Kirill is frequently shown in the company of Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, and the church has been granted the role of a de facto policy adviser to the Kremlin on an array of issues that affect people's everyday lives...

Meanwhile Kirill himself has become a target in pro-opposition media outlets whose authors question his alleged role in dealings around duty-free alcohol and tobacco imports in the 1990s as well as his alleged wealth.

"Anti-Church forces fear the rising role of the Church in the country. Such people are few in numbers but some of them wield influence and are ready to use their resources to discredit the clerics," the statement said.

Look, I'm not saying that I like folks attacking churches or that religion has no role in society. This is the more specific problem of a force obviously hostile to the Church (as evidenced by Metropolitan Hilarion's comments re: Stalin) in full cooperation and support of a guy who could probably pivot in Stalin's direction and not flinch one micrometer. There's not a whole lot we can do about it, other than pray, but it's a creepy trend that I'd rather not see progress any further. Of course, it probably will. Once the Turks have managed to finish destroying the last vestiges of Constantinople, I think we're going to have some major, major problems in the Christian East.

Hopefully, we'll be wrong about that.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Christos Anesti!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

We're Not Quite There

But I like this bit from the Gospel of Nicodemus so much that I figured I'd go ahead and post it. It's what the "preaching to the spirits in prison" might have looked like.

And while all the saints were rejoicing, behold Satan the prince and chief of death said unto Hell: Make thyself ready to receive Jesus who boasteth himself that he is the Son of God, whereas he is a man that feareth death, and sayeth: My soul is sorrowful even unto death. And he hath been much mine enemy, doing me great hurt, and many that I had made blind, lame, dumb, leprous, and possessed he hath healed with a word: and some whom I have brought unto thee dead, them hath he taken away from thee. . .

But when all the multitude of the saints heard it, they spake with a voice of rebuking unto Hell: Open thy gates, that the King of glory may come in. And David cried out, saying: Did I not when I was alive upon earth, foretell unto you: Let them give thanks unto the Lord, even his mercies and his wonders unto the children of men; who hath broken the gates of brass and smitten the bars of iron in sunder? he hath taken them out of the way of their iniquity. And thereafter in like manner Esaias said: Did not I when I was alive upon earth foretell unto you: The dead shall arise, and they that are in the tombs shall rise again, and they that are in the earth shall rejoice, for the dew which cometh of the Lord is their healing? And again I said: O death, where is thy sting? O Hell, where is thy victory?

When they heard that of Esaias, all the saints said unto Hell: Open thy gates: now shalt thou be overcome and weak and without strength. And there came a great voice as of thunder, saying: Remove, O princes, your gates, and be ye lift up ye doors of hell, and the King of glory shall come in. And when Hell saw that they so cried out twice, he said, as if he knew it not: Who is the King of glory? And David answered Hell and said: The words of this cry do I know, for by his spirit I prophesied the same; and now I say unto thee that which I said before: The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle, he is the King of glory. And: The Lord looked down from heaven that he might hear the groanings of them that are in fetters and deliver the children of them that have been slain. And now, O thou most foul and stinking Hell, open thy gates, that the King of glory may come in. And as David spake thus unto Hell, the Lord of majesty appeared in the form of a man and lightened the eternal darkness and brake the bonds that could not be loosed: and the succour of his everlasting might visited us that sat in the deep darkness of our transgressions and in the shadow of death of our sins.

And the Lord stretching forth his hand, said: Come unto me, all ye my saints which bear mine image and my likeness. Ye that by the tree and the devil and death were condemned, behold now the devil and death condemned by the tree. And forthwith all the saints were gathered in one under the hand of the Lord. And the Lord holding the right hand of Adam, said unto him: Peace be unto thee with all thy children that are my righteous ones. But Adam, casting himself at the knees of the Lord entreated him with tears and beseechings, and said with a loud voice: I will magnify thee, O Lord, for thou hast set me up and not made my foes to triumph over me: O Lord my God I cried unto thee and thou hast healed me; Lord, thou hast brought my soul out of hell, thou hast delivered me from them that go down to the pit. Sing praises unto the Lord all ye saints of his, and give thanks unto him for the remembrance of his holiness. For there is wrath in his indignation and life is in his good pleasure. In like manner all the saints of God kneeled and cast themselves at the feet of the Lord, saying with one accord: Thou art come, O redeemer of the world: that which thou didst foretell by the law and by thy prophets, that hast thou accomplished in deed. Thou hast redeemed the living by thy cross, and by the death of the cross thou hast come down unto us, that thou mightest save us out of hell and death through thy majesty. O Lord, like as thou hast set the name of thy glory in the heavens and set up thy cross for a token of redemption upon the earth, so, Lord, set thou up the sign of the victory of thy cross in hell, that death may have no more dominion.

And the Lord stretched forth his hand and made the sign of the cross over Adam and over all his saints, and he took the right hand of Adam and went up out of hell, and all the saints followed him. Then did holy David cry aloud and say: Sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvelous things. His right hand hath wrought salvation for him and his holy arm. The Lord hath made known his saving health, before the face of all nations hath he revealed his righteousness. And the whole multitude of the saints answered, saying: Such honour have all his saints. Amen, Alleluia.

Alleluia, indeed.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Popule Meus, Quid Feci Tibi?

My people, what have I done to you
How have I offended you? Answer me!

I led you out of Egypt,
from slavery to freedom,
but you led your Savior to the cross.

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

For forty years I led you
safely through the desert.
I fed you with manna from heaven,
and brought you to a land of plenty;
but you led your Savior to the cross.

Holy is God!
Holy and strong!
Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

What more could I have done for you.
I planted you as my fairest vine,
but you yielded only bitterness:
when I was thirsty you gave me vinegar to drink,
and you pierced your Savior with a lance.

Holy is God!
Holy and strong!
Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

For your sake I scourged your captors
and their firstborn sons,
but you brought your scourges down on me.

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

I led you from slavery to freedom
and drowned your captors in the sea,
but you handed me over to your high priests.

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

I opened the sea before you,
but you opened my side with a spear.

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

I led you on your way in a pillar of cloud,
but you led me to Pilate's court.

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

I bore you up with manna in the desert,
but you struck me down and scourged me.

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

I gave you saving water from the rock,
but you gave me gall and vinegar to drink.

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

For you I struck down the kings of Canaan.
but you struck my head with a reed.

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

I gave you a royal scepter,
but you gave me a crown of thorns.

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

I raised you to the height of majesty,
but you have raised me high on a cross.

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

The Reproaches of Good Friday

(stuff you don't hear anymore but should)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Facebook scares the hell out of me. And it's not really because of the whole "It's a CIA front" thing either. It's more because of what it does to people.

Sure, there's the inherent danger of people throwing out stuff online that should really be filed under "too much information." This is the stuff that usually gets all the mainstream publicity. You hear about marriages ending because something gets posted about an affair or some dude losing his job because there was a revelation that he was running hookers and coke on the side. That's what you hear about, but it doesn't seem to be the most damaging thing overall, simply because most people are smart enough to keep their adultery and drug-running out of a public/quasi-public forum.

The real damage takes place in one of two areas. First, there's the thing where items like the above aren't really happening, but someone with malice decides to destroy a person and uses Facebook as the grindstone of the rumor mill. This could be anything from personal "he's cheating on you" sorts of things to the commercial "I think ______'s business stinks" types of comments. Having seen both of these phenomenon destroy people and businesses, it almost seems like Facebook is an occasion of sin for a lot of folks.

Scripture has a lot of things in it about keeping your mouth shut. The whole third chapter of James, if you're looking for an example. That all seems to go out of the window when someone is posting to their Wall.

Second, and perhaps even more subtle and deadly than the first, is how Facebook provides an opiate for one's pride. Because one can broadcast one's thoughts to their bazillion friends all at once, they seem to actually begin thinking that their opinions and experiences are of much greater weight than they truly are. This is most evidenced by the individuals who provide an almost minute-by-minute chronology of their day.

"I'm awake."
"Going to the shower."
"Getting dressed."
"Eating Cheerios."
"Going to the can."

I don't think they would be broadcasting these things unless they really thought someone cared.

On top of that, there are the tidbits posted as though they are some sort of wisdom that others then chime in to "Like" which seems to lead to a self-identification as some sort of Facebook Prophet. The ego-inflation that occurs, once activated, proceeds at an exponential rate to the point where a person begins to believe that they are far more important than reality insists.

"Throwback, you hypocrite. You have a blog. You're airing your stuff to the universe for people to read. It's the same thing as Facebook."

I concede that maybe this is true. However, and this may be my pride speaking, I don't find them to be the same thing. Most of my posts here are about my being wrong or frustrated about things. I readily admit that I am neither theologian, philosopher, or any other sort of guy that people should pay attention to. Most importantly, I am not sending open invites to all of my friends and possibly getting angry with them for not "friending" me back. This is a limited forum that I have linked to from other sites a very few times over these years of posting and then only because people on those sites had previously expressed interest either by email or other request. If I'm wrong, I'm happy to accept the criticism for being so, so feel free to fire away.

Facebook still scares me.