30 November 2008

What happens when you wed (1) outside of church (2) above a body of water...

(via Hermeneutic of Continuity)

Texan of the Year

Rod Dreher nominates Ron Paul.
Ron Paul, who has always stood against U.S. imperial overreach, was right about the Iraq war. And that's not the only thing he saw that most Republicans did not.

His libertarian economic views are far from mainstream. For example, he's against income taxes, period, and believes the U.S. should go back on the gold standard. Eccentricities like this keep him from being taken seriously [even though Alan Greenspan has been a longtime advocate of returning to the gold standard--ed.].

But the truth is, if U.S. economic policy looked a lot more like Ron Paul's ideal than what we've had these past decades, the nation wouldn't be tottering on the financial abyss. Dr. Paul has long argued that an economy built on easy credit, insatiable consumption and deficit spending is a time bomb. He backs a national economic model based on savings, investment and production.

An economy that depends so heavily on government intervention to keep it afloat is one that creates of necessity an ever more powerful state. The nationalization of the banking sector only increases the power of the central government and decreases liberty. Dr. Paul warned for years against what we're seeing happen today. But nobody – including me – listened to the old crank.
The same GOP establishment that mocked and reviled Dr. Paul now lies shattered. Who believes in this Republican Party anymore? The party destroyed itself with its own unprincipled recklessness, both in foreign and fiscal policy. And it has ruined its reputation among the young – the most ardent of Dr. Paul's supporters, incidentally....

27 November 2008

There's nothing like a little suffering to sharpen one's sense of gratitude. Now some of us think we suffer plenty each Sunday, the witnesses of liturgical tomfoolery and garish vestments (at this morning's Mass, my parish priest, bless his soul, wore a cream-colored chasuble with a large turkey on the front bordered with fall leaves and pumpkins). And as much as we'd like to skip these holy days of obligation (but wouldn't dare) just to escape the gratingly irritating music and Catholic-lite homilies, none of us would ever really want to miss out on receiving the Eucharist; and reading of Father Ciszek's years-long deprivation of the Body and Blood of Christ, and his subsequent risks taken to offer Mass in the arctic climes of Siberian prison camps, we might come to understand we have not suffered that much at all, and rather that gratitude is in order:
Sometimes I think that those who have never been deprived of an opportunity to say or hear Mass do not really appreciate what a treasure the Mass is. I know, in any event, what it came to mean to me and the other priests I met in the Soviet Union; I know the sacrifices we made and the risks we ran in order just to have a chance to say or hear Mass. When we were constantly hungry in the camps, when the food we got each day was just barely enough to keep us going, I have seen priests pass up breakfast and work at hard labor on an empty stomach until noon in order to keep the Eucharistic fast, because the noon break at the work site was the time we could best get together for a hidden Mass. I did that often myself. And sometimes, when the guards were observing us too closely and we couldn't risk saying Mass at the work site, the crusts of bread I had put in my pocket at breakfast remained there uneaten until I could get back to camp and say Mass at night. Or again, during the long arctic summer, when the work days were the longest and our hours of sleep were at a minimum, I have seen priests to get up before the rising bell for a secret Mass in a quiet barracks, while everyone else clung to those precious extra moments of sleep. In some ways, we led a catacomb existence with our Masses. We would be severely punished if we were discovered saying Mass, and there were always informers. But the Mass to us was always worth the danger and the sacrifice; we treasured it, we looked forward to it, we would do almost anything in order to say or attend a Mass.
--Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J., He Leadeth Me, Ch. 13, p. 143

26 November 2008

Catholics Did It First

If you're ecumenically-minded like me and don't take kindly to celebrating a holiday commemorating a group of Calvinists who set up a Puritan theocracy in New England known for persecuting Catholics, then you can rest easy; the heretics were not the first to celebrate Thanksgiving in this country--Catholics were.

St. Augustine, Florida is the oldest settlement in the United States, founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers. On September 8 of that year, the Nativity of Mary, a Mass of Thanksgiving was held, after which a communal feast was celebrated and the local Seloy tribe invited to attend. The event is significant because it was the first communal thanksgiving celebration in the first permanently settled European colony on American soil.

Others say the date of April 30, 1598, was also significant: Spanish settlers from Mexico set up camp in Southwestern America, held a Mass of thanksgiving, and named the land New Mexico in honor of God, and of King Philip II. A feast was held, Franciscan priests blessing the food before everyone ate to their satisfaction. At the end of the meal, plays were enacted depicting scenes of Native Americans upon first hearing the Catholic faith.

After the Spanish were defeated by the British and driven out of the colonies, it became more expedient and attractive to focus on the 1621 date marking the arrival of the Pilgrims to celebrate this national holiday of thanksgiving--and Americans have done so ever since, entirely obliterating from national memory any influence from earlier Spanish Catholic settlers. But don't let such revisionist history fool you; Catholics have as much claim to this celebration as anyone, if not more. So a blessed and happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, safe travels--and remember, while you're gorging yourself on leftover turkey or madly dashing from store to store on your post-Thanksgiving shopping spree, that (thanks to Fr. Mercer's reminder) Friday remains a day of penitential observance...

Ah, to be Catholic!

25 November 2008

George Weigel tries to understand why so many Catholics voted for Obama:
[W]hat this year's election cycle clarified decisively is that the great public fissure in these United States is between the culture of life and the culture of death.
This year, the pro-abortion candidate carried every state in what Maggie Gallagher calls the "Decadent Catholic Corridor" -- the Northeast and the older parts of the Midwest. Too many Catholics there are still voting the way their grandparents did, and because that's what their grandparents did. This tribal voting has been described by some bishops as immoral; it is certainly stupid, and it must be challenged by adult education. That includes effective use of the pulpit to unsettle settled patterns of mindlessness. This year, a gratifying number of bishops began to accept the responsibilities of their teaching office; so, now, must parish pastors.
Ross Douthat throws cold water on his thesis:

In 1980, '84 and '88, Republican (and pro-life) Presidential candidates managed to capture nearly all of the Midwest and the Northeast, "settled patterns of mindlessness" notwithstanding. Now here we are twenty years later, with FDR and JFK even further in the rearview mirror - and yet Weigel wants to chalk up the Republican Party's horrible showing in these regions to mindless "tribal voting" among Catholic Democrats? This is self-deception, and it ill-behooves pro-lifers to engage in it. John McCain did not lose this election because the Catholic clergy failed to anathematize Barack Obama loudly enough, or because Pennsylvanians and Michiganders thought they were voting for Roosevelt or Truman. He lost it because his party flat-out misgoverned the country, in foreign and domestic policy alike, and because of late the culture war has mattered less to most Americans than the Iraq War and the economic meltdown. And pro-lifers who see the GOP as the only plausible vehicle for their goals have an obligation to look the party's failures squarely in the face and work to fix them....
The line of demarcation Weigel draws through the American populace, separating them into supporters of the culture of life and the culture of death, would be more convincing if he--and like-minded supporters of the Bush administration--would acknowledge that too many in his ranks haven't exactly been consistent in promoting life. There was that execrable piece by the editors of The National Review that justified torture, and Palin's ridiculous "raise the white flag of surrender" remark after Senator Biden expressed a desire to end the war sooner than later, not to mention the blind animosity shown to conservatives who think the war in Iraq is not only misguided, but unjust. I've listened to some popular right-wing commentators discuss what's wrong with the current GOP and why so many have defected--and nary a one has mentioned any of the above. As long as GOP leaders continue to take as self-evident truth the righteousness of this war (and continue to adopt the philosophy that the end justifies the means), they can expect continued weakening of their base.

A Modern Britain

Most invigorating

I spent half the night up with a sick toddler. Where is Jeeves when you need him?

Fr. Walter Ciszek, Servant of God

In 1939, Jesuit priest Fr. Walter Ciszek secretly entered Russia, not to emerge until over two decades later, having spent most of that time as a prisoner of the Soviet government. Arrested on false charges of being a Vatican spy, he spent five years in solitary confinement at notorious Lubianka prison, where he underwent a time of spiritual purgation in preparation for a fruitful apostolate in the arctic prison camps. Although his story is told vividly in his book With God in Russia, his spiritual struggles and insights are masterfully detailed in his memoir He Leadeth Me. An excerpt:
Before my own sad experiences in Lubianka, where I finally came to understand that everything depends on God and not on self in matters spiritual, I had always thought I had a definite answer and an explanation for all the moral questions in every problem of conscience. Having failed the test myself, however, having learned God's truth the hard way, I was able in the camps to be of humble service to the men God sent my way each day.
The key word, in fact, of our priestly apostolate in the camps had to be the word "witness". It was not so much a matter of preaching God and talking religion to the men around you as it was a matter of living the faith that you yourself professed. Many of them could not at first understand a life dedicated to God in work, in suffering, and in sacrifice. But they began by respecting it, and from that respect grew a sense of admiration and then of inquiry. It was not so much what you said, but what you did, how you lived, that influenced them. They were wise in the ways of the prison camp and the prison system; they knew that priests were the object of special harassment by the officials. Yet they saw these same priests refuse to become embittered, they saw them spend themselves in helping others, they saw them daily give of themselves beyond what was required without complaint, without thinking of themselves first, without regard for their own comfort or even safety. They saw them make themselves available to the sick and to the sinning, even to those who had abused or despised them. If a priest showed concerns for such people, they would say, he must believe in something that makes him human and close to God at the same time. This quality in a priest was what appealed most to them. And it was this quality that led them to seek a new relationship with God by reconciling themselves to his laws and to conscience. To help prisoners return to a belief in God they had long abandoned or simply ignored for many years was our greatest joy and consolation.
The first phase of Fr. Ciszek's cause for canonization is complete, and the second phase will soon be underway.

23 November 2008

A Church Musician's Lament

By Michael Olbash

A few weeks ago I was formally terminated from my most recent parish position at a church in the suburbs of Boston. After two years of building up a program that expanded the choir, promoted the singing of Gregorian chant and well crafted hymnody, and generated widespread enthusiasm for quality music, I was informed by the newly assigned pastor, a self-proclaimed "progressive," that I was henceforth to provide a mix of "contemporary" music along with my regular selections. Artistically speaking, this is akin to serving a fine cut of filet mignon with Hawaiian Punch. My differences with the new pastor proved irreconcilable.
Unfortunately, many Catholics judge the quality of liturgical music by its ability to make them cry, or to "speak to" them. And those who lobby for such music are too often backed by parish priests whose goal is to "gather together an affirming, inclusive, and supportive community." In the eyes of these priests, the liturgy is a "dynamic faith-journey through the labyrinth of life," rather than the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The music that we used at Mass has a powerful impact on the way we approach the liturgy, and the way we understand our faith. And any serious study of contemporary Catholic liturgical music should lead the investigator to recognize the ways in which many new hymns undermine reverence and faith.

The hymns of the St. Louis Jesuits, however hideously they might be crafted as pieces of music, at least are usually based upon Scripture and authentic Catholic teaching. But other songs from the 1980s and 1990s--by composers like David Haas, Michael Joncas, and Marty Haugen--are more frightening. Not only is the music poorly crafted; not only are the words trite; not only are the melodies shamelessly dramatic and emotional; but many of these contemporary composers proudly identify themselves as theological liberals, and the teachings that they subtly espouse through their music can be dangerous.

Personally, I stopped performing the music of David Haas after he published Dear Sister God, and presented a music workshop at which he and his ex-wife, composer Jeanne Cotter, informed the participants of their "duty" and "responsibility" to purge their parishes of "exclusive language" in the liturgy.

Father Jan Michael Joncas, the notorious composer of the drippingly saccharine "On Eagle's Wings," is another serious offender, who promotes misleading ideas about Holy Communion. His series of songs and rituals called "Tableprayer" is used all round the country by women and non-Catholics who act as quasi-celebrants, breaking bread and sharing wine at meetings that tread dangerously close to profaning the Catholic Mass.

Marty Haugen, a Lutheran whose music is probably performed more widely in American Catholic parishes than that of any other composer, has produced ugly, ridiculous hymns that emphasize the sun, the moon, trees, and dancing--all set to primitive melodies that evoke a whimsical stroll through a field of organic sunflowers.

Crack open a copy of GIA Publication's Gather hymnal or the annual Music Issue from Oregon Catholic Press, and you will find clear evidence of feminist theology, an overwhelming amount of confusing (if not outright heretical) texts about the nature of the Eucharist, and countless awkward "inclusive language" revisions of familiar hymns. You will find dozens of songs and "psalm settings" that are said to be "based on" or "inspired by" passages from Scripture, yet completely obliterate the meaning of the original text.

Consider some of the most recognizable passages from the popular hymnals: "Let peace begin with me." "Here I am, Lord; is it I, Lord?" "I myself am the bread of life& broken and shared by Christ." This is the music of a self-centered church, where the individual--not Jesus Christ--is king. At best it is empty and sentimental; there is no reverence, no sense of the holy or the transcendent, about it. This is the music of a secular-humanist society, trying to assume the cultural identity of our Church.

You can read the rest here.

Mayflower Screwballs

The true story of Catholic recusants aboard the Mayflower, told by eyewitnesses.

Pilgrims, Democracy, Thanksgiving, etc.

Queen Elizabeth had little patience for the Catholics, but even less for the Calvinists, who complained the Church of England remained too papist. In their desire to complete the Reformation and purify religion of popish trumperies, the Puritans broke from the Anglican Church, rejected the Book of Common Prayer, and preferred the anti-royalist Geneva Bible to the King James version. They instituted an independent congregationalist ideal that upheld the notion of the common priesthood of all believers, and thus granted an equal say among congregants in the election of the minister (some claim the roots of American democracy lie here). All of this naturally brought down upon them the wrath of the Crown. A number of Puritans sought refuge in Holland, where they lived in religious freedom for a dozen years, after which they chose to emigrate to America. After meeting another group of Puritans in Southampton, all boarded the Mayflower on September 16, 1620. Sixty-five days later, they sighted Cape Cod. The first Thanksgiving celebration (which lasted three days) took place in 1621 with about ninety Native Americans, and wasn't celebrated again until some years later, when in 1863 Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday.

Thus was born, for better or for worse, Thanksgiving as we know it. As all good Catholics know, eucharistia is Greek for thanksgiving--so be sure to leg it to Mass that day and pay your respects to the Giver of all good gifts.

18 November 2008


According to this source, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Souter has agreed to review a suit claiming Barack Obama may not be eligible to be president of the United States. As we know, the Constitution requires that any president be a natural-born citizen. The lawsuit cites Obama's grandmother (on his father's side) as claiming that Obama was actually born in Kenya, but his mother registered his birth shortly afterward in Hawaii. Matters are complicated by the fact that Obama has been unable or unwilling to provide an authentic original of his Hawaiian birth certificate. Here's the twist: the argument goes that even if Obama were able to produce an authentic Hawaiian birth certificate, he would still be ineligible to hold office based on the U.S. Nationality Act of 1940, section 317(b), which holds that minors lose their status as American citizens if their parents permanently move to another country. Because Obama's mother married an Indonesian and moved to Indonesia, Obama would have lost his American citizenship along with any eligibility to be president of the United States.

If the Supreme Court grants certiorari, this would be rather huge. I wait with proverbial bated breath to learn the outcome.

(Nod to Fr. Mercer, who often sends interesting tidbits worth passing along)

This website cites the relevant portions of the Nationality Act and responds to Berg's claims based on this law. Although the Act does indeed cause the loss of citizenship status to an unemancipated minor when his custodial parent expatriates, it also provides that the minor can retain that status if he begins permanent residence in the U.S. before the age of 23--which Obama has done.

If the Hawaiian certificate of live birth is authentic, then Obama would have been a dual U.S. and British citizen upon birth (because Kenya was a British colony); when Kenya became independent two years later, Obama's British citizenship automatically transformed into Kenyan citizenship. Thus he held dual U.S. and Kenyan citizenship from 1963 onwards until he reached the age of 21, at which time his Kenyan citizenship expired.

But the plot thickens. Although the Obama campaign has posted what looks like an authentic Certificate of Live Birth on its website, Berg is requesting the original Vault Birth Certificate, which has been sealed by the state of Hawaii under orders by the Governor. Instead of producing the Vault Birth Certificate (which Obama personally could do), his campaign has chosen instead to fight to have the lawsuit dismissed. According to Berg, the Certificate of Live Birth would register Obama's birth in Hawaii as a "natural born" U.S. citizen, even if he had been born outside the country; the Vault Birth Certificate would clarify where he was actually born.

The Supreme Court is demanding that Obama respond by December 1, after which Berg will be allowed to respond, and the Court will then decide whether or not to accept the case. On December 13, the electoral college will meet officially to cast its votes for the president-elect.

Left: A certification of live birth; Right: A vault birth certificate from Hawaii

17 November 2008

Backpay Is Owed to the House of Bourbon

This from a pious devotional I've been reading, which explains the royal origins of that eponymously-named drink:
The French government of Louis XVI, still smarting from the British conquest of Canada and India, was eager to help the American colonists rebel against George III. Attempting to avenge his grandfather's defeat, good King Louis sent his best generals (including Lafayette), much of his fleet, and the better part of his shrinking treasury to the aid of General Washington.

With all due credit to Washington's prudence and statesmanship, the French pretty much won the war for us--as most Americans at the time admitted. In gratitude, the Congress hung a portrait of King Louis in the Capitol, and legislatures across the 13 states gave French names to regions and cities--including Bourbon County, which constituted much of Kentucky, as Charles K. Cowder noted in The Bourbon County Reader (July 1, 1996). Even when the vast county was broken up, the whiskey from the region kept the name.
Sadly, the rise of bourbon contributed to the fall of the Bourbons. Louis XVI's aid to American rebels caused the royal bankruptcy which finally broke the monarchy, and brought to power the craziest atheist intellectuals in France--where they have governed ever since. Therefore, every Bastille Day (July 14), we raise a glass of bourbon in honor of good King Louis XVI, who wrecked his own country to help found ours.


I've been wasting far too much time on it, hence my absence here. If you're a member, do shoot me a note, and I can add you to my friends list. That way I can pretend to be more popular than I actually am...

15 November 2008

Nous sommes prêts, en dépit des énormes machines de propagande républicaine, à défendre nos convictions partout où les Français sont en quête d'une alternative, d'un changement, et même d'un rêve : la France.

14 November 2008

Fr. Celest Van Exem

Longtime spiritual director to Mother Teresa, one can safely say she owed the last five years of her life to him (though, after 50-odd years of spiritual desolation, I'm not sure she was absolutely thrilled about carrying on down here below). As she lay gravely ill in a hospital bed in 1993, she received this note:
Dear Mother,
Tomorrow morning I shall say Holy Mass

1. that you may have no operation
2. that you may be in China by the 7th October 93
3. that the Lord may take me and not you if that is His Will.

His will, not mine.

I am with you and the Sisters, all of them.

There is a calvary for every Christian. For you the way to Calvary is long, but Mary has met you on the road. You did not go up the hill, this is for later.

I adore the Blessed Sacrament which, I am sure, you have in your room.

Pray for me and all my companions, especially the companions of Jesus with whom I am.

Yours sincerely in O.L.
C. Van Exem, S.J.
The good father passed away four days later.

Stojan Adasevic

From Catholic News Agency:
Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.
In describing his conversion, Adasevic “dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. ‘My name is Thomas Aquinas,’ the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn’t recognize the name”

“Why don’t you ask me who these children are?” St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

“They are the ones you killed with your abortions,’ St. Thomas told him.

“Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions,” the article stated.
(nod to Fr. Mercer)

12 November 2008

L'Ordre du Saint-Esprit

This most august order in France (though the Order of St. Michael is more ancient) was created by King Henry III, in honor of the fact that he was elected King of France and Poland on two separate Pentecosts. It is reserved for Catholic royalty. The French government under the Revolution abolished this and all Catholic chivalric orders; after it was revived under the Restoration of the House of Bourbon, it was again abolished by Orleanist Louis-Philippe after the July 1830 Revolution. The Legitimist pretenders, who support Louis-Alphonse as lawful king of France, continue to nominate members.

The Badge of the Order is a gold, ball-tipped Maltese Cross, enameled in white and green, with a gold fleur-de-lys between each arm. In the center is St. Michael crushing Lucifer. The badge hangs from a sky blue riband worn over the right shoulder.

Croix de l'Ordre du Saint-Esprit

See here for a discussion of illegitimate chivalric orders of France.

Bon Anniversaire à la Duchesse d'Anjou!

A l'occasion du quatre-vingt-quinzième anniversaire de la duchesse d'Anjou et de Ségovie, le 8 novembre, elle a été reçue en audience privée par S.S. le pape Benoît XVI, avec son petit-fils le duc d'Anjou et sa famille. Après l'audience papale, elle a assisté à une soirée en son honneur au Palazzo Massimo de Pirro.

On the occasion of the 95th birthday of the Duchess of Anjou and of Segovia, November 8, she was received in a private audience by Pope Benedict XVI, with her grandson the Duke of Anjou and his family. After the papal audience, she attended an evening reception held in her honor at the Palazzo Massimo de Pirro.

The arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Anjou with Princess Eugenie. M. Chiaradia-Bousquet corrects the placement of the the badge of the Saint Esprit. If Prince Louis-Alphonse de Bourbon is ever crowned Louis XX of France, his wife will wear all white, including a white mantilla, to papal audiences.

At the evening reception. From left to right: His Eminence the Most Reverend Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, HRH the Duchess of Segovia and Anjou, HRH the Duke of Anjou (wearing the neck badge of a grand cross of Honour and Devotion of the SMOM and the Ribbon, Badge and Star of the Order of the Saint Esprit) and Mgr Dominique Mamberti, Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs.

The Duke and Duchess of Anjou (a.k.a. Louis XX of France and Princess Marie-Marguerite de Bourbon) at the soirée.

2nd left HE Fra Filippo Ferretti di Castel Ferretti, Grand Prior of Rome of the Order of Malta, HEM Cardinal Tauran, M. Jean-Pierre Chiaradia-Bousquet and HRH the Duke of Anjou.

Most Rev Nicholas Thevenin (Sec of Cardinal Bertone), the Ambassador of Belgium to the Holy See and SMOM, Cardinal Tauran, the Duchess of Segovia and Anjou, the Duchess of Anjou, the Duke of Anjou, Mgr Mamberti, the Ambassador of Portugal to the Holy See.

Note: Cardinal Tauran, Mgr Mamberti, and Mgr Thevenin are all French and would probably consider themselves Legitimists.

(via Guy Stair Sainty)

11 November 2008

Le Jour de L'Armistice

La France

Les États-Unis


Today it is most apt to pay homage to the man who spent his reign trying to prevent la Grande Guerre, and whose downfall this day marked the end of European civilization.

The Loving Side to Same-Sex Marriage

(via Mark Shea)

In other news, the gay activist group BASH BACK! stormed and vandalized Mt. Hope Church in Michigan.
"Jesus was gay," they shouted among other profanities and blasphemies as they rushed the stage. Some forced their way through rows of women and kids to try to hang a profane banner from the balcony while others began tossing fliers into the air. Two women made their way to the pulpit and began to kiss.
Mount Hope, for the record, is an evangelical, bible believing church whose members provide free 24 hour counseling, prayer lines, catastrophic care for families dealing with medical emergencies, support groups for men, women and children dealing with a wide variety of life's troubles, crisis intervention, marriage ministries, regular, organized volunteer work in and around the city, missions in dozens of countries across the globe, a construction ministry that has built over 100 churches, schools, orphanages and other projects all over the world and an in-depth prison ministry that reaches out, touches and helps the men and women the rest of society fears the most. They also teach respect for all human life and the Biblical sanctity of marriage as an institution between one man and one woman.
If the democratic process doesn't work, you can always try force...

09 November 2008

Here's what I love: Doug Kmiec justifies the current pro-choice regime--and all the suffering of the unborn it entails--claiming the Democrats will do more to further the pro-life cause than the Republicans, and then takes umbrage when Ross Douthat calls him a "useful idiot." Kmiec then proceeds to offer a patronizing lecture on the importance of charity:
Genuine love and affection do not reside on the Internet, so I cannot extend it to you, but in my heart, I forgive your great unkindness. I do hope you can free yourself from its enslavement. Realize that your meaning is bound up in the occasions in your life to be of service. Ross, once you allow yourself to see your dependence upon others, and their need for you, I am certain you would appreciate the cruelty of what you have written.
This is too rich. In Kmiec's world, brutality to those in the womb must be tolerated (because of religious pluralism), but insensitivity in speech is not--particularly when directed toward him. (For my part, I can think of many more choice words that could be thrown his way...)

He then cites as support for his position the fact that "54 percent of the Catholics in America saw exactly what I see in Barack Obama." Indeed--the percentage whose love for Mother Church is second only to Sunday morning sports. As to FOCA, it gets a passing (convoluted) mention:
[Obama's] party commitments have not let his mind free of ill-considered measures like FOCA, but those who came to his side because the Republicans had defaulted on the issue of life hope the Congress enacts a law that will promote life and not invite its destruction.
--"Hope" being the key word here, as Kmiec knows full well that Obama promised that his first act as president would be to sign FOCA into law, and that he voted four separate times against protecting infants born alive after a botched abortion. He is also likely to reverse the Bush administration's decision not to contribute to the United Nations Population Fund (which facilitates China's forced-abortion policy). If Obama makes good on his promise, Kmiec--and all those other Catholics duped by his message of "hope" and "change"--will be eating their own words. And the rest of us will, thankfully, be spared their silly lectures on sensitivity.

In any case, Tucker Carlson had some advice to offer Kmiec:
Hey, Doug. Toughen up. Seriously. I've read suicide notes that were less passive-aggressive than this. Let's review what actually happened: You argued that Obama is not a pro-choice extremist. Ross disagreed. Rather than respond with a counterpoint, you got hysterical, dismissing Ross as a hater, even fretting about the future of his soul.

Get some perspective. And for God's sake, stop whining. [I]f you are going to blame him, do it directly, like a man, without all the encounter-group talk and Pope quotes. People often attack the religious right, sometimes with justification. But as you just reminded us, there is nothing in the world more annoying than the religious left.

Pious Meditation on Today's Reading

Jesus drives the moneychangers from the temple. (John 2:13-22)

This reminds me of a particularly meditative passage in a devotional I've been going through, in which the saintly authors discuss ways to incorporate Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises into daily life:
The Jesuit method suggests you close your eyes, compose yourself in prayer, and try to evoke the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and feelings that Jesus must have gone through.

[Thus, imagine Jesus]:

--While He sat, bored, in the Temple, listening to the rabbis explain the Old Testament (which He'd written) or the universe (which He'd created).
--As He stunned an entire village by raising Lazarus from the dead. Dig deep into the rotting stuff at the back of your refrigerator to evoke the scent; "Lord, by this time he stinketh." (John 11:39).
--As He chased the moneychangers out of the Temple. The next time you spot a really upsetting liturgical abuse, treat it as an opportunity to imitate Christ. If you lack knotted cords, a bicyle chain should do.
I can say that, with regard to the third exercise, I had a chance to implement this pious practice at this morning's Mass, with remarkable results. When parishioners began leaving church in droves immediately after Holy Communion, I took out my corded whip (conveniently in my purse) and flogged the lot of them. Taken by surprise at a pregnant woman brandishing a rawhide while screaming, "Get behind me, Satan!", they fled in terror, half of them pledging never to leave Mass early again, the other half (who were functionally Protestants anyway) promising never to come back to church at all. Rather effective!

Oxford's Top 10 Irritating Phrases

The Telegraph reports:
The phrases appear in a book called Damp Squid, named after the mistake of confusing a squid with a squib, a type of firework.

The researchers who compiled the list monitor the use of phrases in a database called the Oxford University Corpus, which comprises books, papers, magazines, broadcast, the internet and other sources.
1 - At the end of the day

2 - Fairly unique

3 - I personally

4 - At this moment in time

5 - With all due respect

6 - Absolutely

7 - It's a nightmare

8 - Shouldn't of

9 - 24/7

10 - It's not rocket science
Other phrases to irritate people are "literally" and "ironically", when they are used out of context.
A few notes: "literally" means the act you describe has actually taken place. For example, "I literally turned beet-red" means if a beet were juxtaposed to your face, there would be no difference in color--which is why it's far better to omit "literally" in almost every instance it's used, because things almost never "literally" happen as we describe.

Often, when people use the term "ironically," they really mean "oddly enough" or "unusually", whereas the term "irony" denotes meaning something precisely opposite of what one says. For instance, on the win of an unremarkable politician, one says, "This is the greatest day in American history."

"Alright" is not a word.

"Different than" is hardly ever used properly (the best and brightest confuse this). Unless one is saying something is more different than something else, the appropriate phrase is "different from," as in "This man's outfit is different from that man's."

"Irregardless" is not a word.

"Supposably" is not a word.

"Hopefully" is never used correctly. It means "filled with hope" but is often used to replace the phrase "I hope."

"Afterall" is not a word; it is two.

Example of gratingly irritating phrasing (though the underlying sentiment is sound):
Irregardless of their rhetoric, supposably pro-life Obamacons showed little regard for the unborn afterall; hopefully they'll repent, or spend eons in the lowest rung of Purgatory subjected to tickle torture by aforementioned babies.
Father Neuhaus on the bishops:
In recent months, an unusually large number of bishops have been assertive, articulate, and even bold, in their public affirmation of the demands of moral reason and the Church’s teaching.... Not all bishops covered themselves with honor in the doing of their duty. Ignoring their further duty to protect the integrity of the Eucharist and defend against the faithful’s being led into confusion, temptation, and sin by skandolon, some bishops issued statements explaining why they had no intention of addressing the problem of public figures who claim they are Catholics in good standing despite their consistent rejection of the Church’s teaching on the defense of innocent human lives. Some such bishops took the position that publicly doing or saying anything that addressed that very public problem would be viewed as controversial, condemned as politically partisan, and misconstrued by those hostile to the Church. Therefore, they explained, they were doing and saying nothing except to say why they were doing and saying nothing.
Clergy must always speak the truth, even were they to descend from the pulpit and be killed for it. --St. Jean Marie Vianney, patron saint of all priests

08 November 2008

Crazy Ninja

Someone with no shame and a lot of time on his hands...

07 November 2008

Celebrities Decry Democratic Process

Hundreds of Hollywood celebrities voiced outrage over the result of California's popular referendum amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Many of those same celebrities were earlier celebrating voter turnout and the glories of democracy, which produced an Obama victory--yet that same democratic process that's resulted in a decision they can't tolerate has left them indignant. Gay folk singer Melissa Etheridge, who exchanged vows with her partner five years ago, is protesting:
[My girlfriend] and I are not allowed the same right under the state constitution as any other citizen. Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books.
That eloquently articulated argument will go over really well in the state penitentiary. (Oh, and that taxation without representation thingy involved the British Parliament's decision to tax the colonials without their having any say in the matter, a problem that has long since been rectified here, as one presumes you were allowed your one vote--just like everyone else--in Tuesday's referendum. The fact that yours was outnumbered by those of dissimilar mind has nothing to do with any unfairness in the process, my dear.)

She then indignantly asks, "When did it become okay to legislate morality?"

Let's see... since the inception of this nation, and every nation that's come before? When the state criminalizes, e.g., pederasty, it is making a moral judgment that sex with minors is wrong; when animal rights interest groups lobby congress to pass laws banning animal cruelty, it's based on their judgment that cruelty to animals is wrong; and when senators vote to protect babies from being shoved into a linen closet and left to die after botched abortions (senators NOT named Obama), it's a judgment that such behavior is wrong. We legislate morality all the time; it's what the laws of this nation are founded on, so the tired phrase that so many pro-choice activists (and, it seems now, gay activists) wield about "not legislating morality" is simply founded on ignorance.

But should anyone be surprised? This is Hollywood, after all...


your outfit!

Designer Narciso Rodriguez was responsible for that...garment... Michelle Obama wore on election night. It was a more conservative version of the original. As far as I'm concerned, it looks as if a paint can had exploded in the vicinity, and the designer didn't care to clean up the mess. It seems Obama's mantra of "Change" is certainly taking effect, starting with the wardrobe. It isn't as if Rodriguez is incapable of elegant designs (see here and here); it's just that Mrs. Obama seems to have set aside her usually tasteful attire and decided to go for, to put it kindly, flair. Let us hope it was a one-time thing.

How else might D.C. transform under the Obamas? Christopher Buckley opines, “He’s a cool cat, and I think he’s going to bring cool catness back, if it ever existed at the White House.” (Ah, just what we need.) Others speculate he'll eschew boring tradition and convention in favor of things more hip.
"There’s an older generation here that clings to, you know, the Gridiron Club and the White House Correspondents’ dinner, and certain institutions,” said Frank Mankiewicz, a longtime Democratic operative and former press secretary to Robert F. Kennedy. “We go to the Corcoran, the Smithsonian, the I. M. Pei Wing of the National Gallery. I have a feeling those things will diminish in importance, and other institutions will take their place.”
Visits to D.C. Poetry Slams, then? All night jam sessions at Blues Alley? The Sol LeWitt wing of the National Gallery (whose art is so uninteresting he leaves it to others to compose his works for him)? Isn't that where the cool cats go?

Fight FOCA

06 November 2008

Eggs, Beans, and Crumpets

If you have the unfortunate luck of being a member of Facebook, might I recommend joining the group The Drones Club? Description:
The online homage to the gentlemen's club located in Dover Street, London, created by P. G. Wodehouse and frequented by Bertie Wooster, Bingo Little, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps, Oofy Prosser, Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright, Tuppy Glossop and many more - not forgetting George behind the bar.

A drone is a male bee that does no work, living off the labour of others, which aptly describes the attitude toward labour held by most of the rich, idle young men who are members of the Drones Club. But the drones have the most most important job in the hive--they impregnate the queen.
Oh, and don't bother requesting membership if you're female. The page has in all caps at the top: NO WOMEN ALLOWED--which any self-respecting Wodehouse-loving female knows is absolutely requisite to the establishment of any authentic (albeit virtual) Drones Club. In fact, I would most certainly lose respect for these chaps if they started allowing those of my gender in as a result of shrill, weepy calls for equality or some such nonsense.

It's Starting

John Zmirak made some rather gloomy predictions in case of an Obama win, foretelling the increased persecution of Christians if he makes good on his promise to sign FOCA into law--legislation that would raise abortion to a fundamental right and, if enforced, essentially shut down Christian hospitals and doctors who refuse to perform or refer abortions.
History tells us that steps such as this aren’t where religious persecutions end. It’s where they begin. Things are already scary enough in neighboring Canada, where Christians are now routinely hauled up before human rights tribunals for repeating what the Bible teaches concerning sex. Who knows what some Obama-appointed judge, 20 years from now, will make of a pastor whose sermons attacked the “fundamental right” of women to kill their children? How many churches and seminaries will face crippling civil judgments and have to close?

It can happen here. It is about to happen here.
Stark stuff, that--so stark some may think it unrealistic, the expression of an overactive imagination, or of a fearmonger.

But I don't think it's that far off-base. Pro-choicers have been emboldened by the Obama win, and the pro-life movement is already feeling its effects: Operation Rescue received a death threat before the final votes were even tallied.
The threat indicated that any act of “anti-abortion terror” would be “ANSWERED IN KIND BY PRO-CHOICE COUNTERTERRORISTS, who will mount violent attacks against right-to-lifers.” [Emphasis theirs.] The threat was issued by someone identifying himself as “SoMG” with the IP address of
Time to brace ourselves...

05 November 2008


We have the president we deserve.

Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes not divine, but demonic.
--Pope Benedict XVI

Louis Farrakhan on Obama:
You are the instruments that God is going to use to bring about universal change, and that is why Barack has captured the youth. And he has involved young people in a political process that they didn't care anything about. That's a sign. When the Messiah speaks, the youth will hear, and the Messiah is absolutely speaking.
Would God allow Barack to be president of a country that has been so racist, so evil in its treatment of Hispanics, native Americans, blacks? ...Of course he would. That's to show you that the stone that the builders rejected has become the headstone of the corner. This is a sign to you. It's the time of our rise.
Such rhetoric reminds me of the words of another cult of personality. Can you guess who?
A declaration of war against the order of things which exist, against the state of things which exist, in a word, against the structure of the world which presently exists.

people's community

public need before private greed

communally-minded social consciousness
Fr. George Rutler discusses re-reading Fr. Benson's Lord of the World and the dangers of utopianism.

It seems Oprah has drunk the Kool-Aid.

02 November 2008

Tales of the Unexplained

Rod Dreher recounts his experience with an exorcist in Louisiana in the 1990s:
Shelby Kelly, housewife, grandmother, exorcist's assistant, stands next to a small grove of saplings, nervously crossing and uncrossing her arms, at times pressing her palms flat against the sides of her head. She is short of breath. She is shaken. A dream she'd had the night before told her a child was murdered on this spot. That killing, she believes, has something to do with a curse placed on this property, the curse Mrs. Kelly has come to help lift this steamy October afternoon.

"It's here. This is the place. This is it," she tells the Rev. Mario Termini, the official exorcist of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, who awaits her directions. Father Termini and his two other assistants, Florence Delapasse and Mike Dupre, will perform a Mass of deliverance to free the land from what they believe is demonic oppression.
Read the rest of the account here.

On a related note, here is an old post of an article written by a skeptical journalist who witnessed an exorcism firsthand--and came away a believer. Fr. Jose Fortea, the exorcist (trained by Fr. Gabriel Amorth, chief exorcist of Rome) and subject of the article, has written the most exhaustive compendium of demonology in the Catholic Church: Summa Daemoniaca.

In an interview, Fr. Fortea discusses Satan's greatest triumph:
To make us believe that he doesn't exist. Indeed, after the 60s, many theologians said he was a symbol, and this has been a great success because, of course, all the ministry of exorcism disappeared from Europe almost totally. Only in Rome did it remain in a continuous, and even daily, manner.
And, appropriately enough for All Souls Day, Fr. Fortea explains on his website what some term "ghosts":
Ghosts are apparitions of people who are in Purgatory. These apparitions have characteristics which are always the same and very different from infestations:

-the soul appears in human form.
-it does not say anything.
-it appears in a menacing and terrifying manner.

It never moves objects nor makes any noise. When it appears it just stares, in a very unfriendly way, and then just disappears.... It disappears if masses and prayers are said for its soul. These apparitions are ways of calling our attention so that prayers be said for it.
I have very little difficulty believing any of this; I've known people in exorcism ministries who have told me of their own harrowing accounts, and I've been subject to sufficient otherworldly experiences to know that this is all very real. In fact, I am often puzzled by Catholics who do not believe such things take place; was Christ just pretending when He spoke of Heaven, Hell, demons, angels, and all that has to do with the otherworld? If the Devil is mere symbol, then perhaps the Eucharist is mere symbol, too? And the priest is not truly invested with any real authority to act in the name of Christ? And the sacrament of penance does not really absolve, but is just a place to find emotional catharsis and feel warm and fuzzy all over afterwards?

Perhaps we should simply take Christ at His word...

I'm Leaving

Not me, but an anonymous professor says farewell to his less-than-beloved institution. Anyone who's had any experience with academia from the inside can relate well to his discontent:
After too many years at this job (I am in my mid-40s), I have grown to question higher education in ways that cannot be rectified by a new syllabus, or a sabbatical, or, heaven forbid, a conference roundtable. No, my troubles with this treasured profession are both broad and deep, and they begin with a fervent belief that most of today’s college students, especially those that come to college straight from high school, are unnecessarily coddled. Professors and administrators seek to “nurture” and “engage” and they are doing so at the expense of teaching. The result: a discernable and precipitous decline in the quality of college students. More of them come to campus with dreadful study habits. Too few of them read for pleasure. Too many drink and smoke excessively. They are terribly ill-prepared for four years of hard work, and most dangerously, they do not think that college should be arduous. Instead they perceive college as an overnight recreation center in which they exercise, eat, and in between playing extracurricular sports, they carry books around. If a professor is lucky, the books are being skimmed hours before class.
The rest is well worth reading.

As a part-time instructor of undergraduates at an unnotable college, I've had to exercise mortification of the tongue on many an occasion when certain university policies were mandated: "Student retention is key!" "We have a lenient late policy, so do not penalize students for late work!" "Send out 'caregrams' during midterm break to let failing students know you care!" "We have a strict plagiarism policy--three strikes, you're out--but if they cheat four, five, or ten times but are really, really sorry, we can be flexible." "Student faculty scoring determines which instructors get classes next term, so ingratiate yourself to those who can't read, write, or think, or else they'll take it out on you on their end-of-term evaluations!" (All of this meaning: humiliate yourself to any lengths in order to keep students from dropping out of class, even if they are unworthy candidates for higher education, because the dollar is the bottom line!)

(via Crunchy Con)

01 November 2008

Priestblock 25487

The English translation of Fr. Bernard's memoir of Dachau concentration camp was published last year, but I am just getting to it now. It's rather intense and disturbing, as one would expect, so if you aren't into reading what may leave you in a somber mood, don't pick it up.

I visited the camp several years ago when a summer student in Innsbruck, Austria, taking the train north one day to the city of Dachau. All of the barracks have been demolished (including the clergy block: barracks 26, 28, and 30); only "the bunker" remains, where disobedient prisoners were kept, and one can enter its long, narrow corridor and look into each of its cells. This being back when I was still a heretic an apostate unreconciled to the Church, I didn't take the same interest in the clergy's role then as I do today.

International Memorial, Nandor Glid

All our clothes and the contents of our pockets are taken from us. Next each new arrival is shaved from head to toe and shoved into a huge shower room. "My" SS man turns up the water so hot that I feel scalded alive, then suddenly makes it ice cold. I summon all my energy and act as if I don't notice.

My companions can't manage it. They scream and try to jump out--just the reaction the guards have been waiting for. They shove themn back in and so it continues, in and out, in and out, until the sadistic game gets boring.
Now we get a blue-and-white striped shirt, jacket, and pair of trousers, socks (ah!), and "clogs," which have wooden soles with cloth or leather on top.

Next each prisoner is examined inside and out, with the results noted down, and finally has to take a seat to be photographed. The first of us is just finishing this process when he suddenly leaps up screaming. It turns out that the chair seat has a spring-mounted spike in it as thick as a man's finger--a little private joke on the part of the SS photographer.

The Road to Serfdom

In cartoons...

See the rest here.

Of course, these days, we've got a choice between Socialist and National Socialist...

Bonne Fête de la Toussaint

Now that all of you, being the good Catholics you are, have spurned Reformation Day (which appropriately falls on the day the Church recalls the souls of the damned) by your various festivities, you can set the candy corns aside for a moment, put on a nice suit, and attend Mass in honor of all those nameless saints in heaven. In the United States, All Saints is normally a holy day of obligation, unless it falls on a Saturday (like today); if so, the obligation is abrogated. Nonetheless, all are encouraged to attend if possible.

You can gain several plenary indulgences today (an exception from the normal rule which limits it to one per day) for the poor souls in Purgatory each time you visit a church and recite the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria, and the Gloria six times (of course, after having having gone to confession and Holy Communion).