Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paul Harvey (1919-2009)

Rupa Shenoy, "Broadcasting pioneer Paul Harvey dies at age of 90" (Chicago Tribune, February 28, 2009):
CHICAGO - Paul Harvey, the news commentator and talk-radio pioneer whose staccato style made him one of the nation's most familiar voices, died Saturday, ABC Radio Networks said. He was 90....

Known for his resonant voice and trademark delivery of "The Rest of the Story," Harvey had been heard nationally since 1951, when he began his "News and Comment" for ABC Radio Networks.

He became a heartland icon, delivering news and commentary with a distinctive Midwestern flavor. "Stand by for news!" he told his listeners. He was credited with inventing or popularizing terms such as "skyjacker" and "Reaganomics."

"Paul Harvey was one of the most gifted and beloved broadcasters in our nation's history," ABC Radio Networks President Jim Robinson said in a statement. "We will miss our dear friend tremendously and are grateful for the many years we were so fortunate to have known him."

In 2005, Harvey was one of 14 notables chosen as recipients of the presidential Medal of Freedom.
[Hat tip to S.K.]

Democrats: from inspiring hope to fear mongering

Jonah Goldberg, "The politics of fear," (NRO, February 27, 2009):
This week, former Vice President Al Gore was forced to withdraw a slide from his PowerPoint presentation....

The slide in question was part of Gore’s peripatetic minstrel show of environmental doom, made famous in his Oscar-winning horror-documentary An Inconvenient Truth....

The problem: ... Caught fudging the facts, again, the former vice president had no choice but to drop the graph. It’s a small thing, in and of itself, but it illustrates something much bigger.

Democrats take understandable pride in FDR’s famous declaration, made during the Great Depression, that “all we have to fear is fear itself.” More recently Democrats, led by none other than Al Gore, have been fixated on the evils of the “politics of fear” — politics, allegedly, only Republicans are guilty of practicing.

Ever since the Iraq War turned decidedly unpopular, Gore has been demonizing George W. Bush and the GOP as fearmongers. “He betrayed this country!”

What’s hilarious about this is that Gore is, without question, the most successful fearmonger in America, if not the whole world. He is constantly spinning climate change in the most horrifying terms possible....

Gore also seems to have taught Barack Obama a thing or two. President Obama, whose whole campaign was about hope over fear, has been scaring the dickens out of people lately. He has certainly terrified the stock market. He’s warned of “catastrophe” and economic “disaster” from which we may never recover.

What’s particularly odious about Obama’s scare tactics is that he’s using them for the mother of all bait-and-switches.... It’s like convincing someone he’s got cancer and then telling him that’s why he needs to buy a new car....
[Hat tip to S.K.]

Unequal time

Mark Steyn, "Headless Body in Gutless Press" (February 21, 2009):
Just asking, but are beheadings common in western New York? I used to spend a lot of time in that neck of the woods and I don't remember decapitation as a routine form of murder. Yet the killing of Aasiya Hassan seems to have elicited a very muted response.

When poor Mrs Hassan's husband launched his TV network to counter negative stereotypes of Muslims, he had no difficulty generating column inches, as far afield as The Columbus Dispatch, The Detroit Free Press, The San Jose Mercury News, Variety, NBC News, the Voice of America and the Canadian Press. The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle put the couple on the front page under the headline "Infant TV Network Unveils The Face Of Muslim News".

But, when Muzzammil Hassan kills his wife and "the face of Muslim news" is unveiled rather more literally, detached from her corpse at his TV studios, it's all he can do to make the local press - page 26 of Newsday, plus The Buffalo News, and a very oddly angled piece in the usually gung-ho New York Post, "Buffalo Beheading: Money Woe Spurred Slay."
[Hat tip to S.K.]

John McGlinn, 1953-2009

Mark Steyn, "The land where the good songs go" (February 27, 2009):
On the other side of the moon
Ever so far
Beyond the last little star
There's a land I know
Where the good songs go...
I was startled to see my old sparring partner John McGlinn turn up in the obituaries column last week. He was only 55, and died in Manhattan apparently of a heart attack. He was a marvelous conductor who loved opera and was beloved by opera singers, and could have had a good career, up to his neck in Wagner and Verdi. But he loved musicals - or, more precisely, musical comedies....
[Hat tip to S.K.]

Populist revolt: Boston teaparty redivivus

Michelle Malkin, "Tea Party photo album: Fiscal responsibility is the new counterculture" (Michelle Malkin, February 27, 2009). Check out the pictures. Something happening here.

[Hat tip to S.K.]

Wow! Episcopal authority is impressive when simple & clear

Key excerpts from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., "Rendering Unto Caesar: The Catholic Political Vocation," an address delivered at St. Basil's Collegiate Church at the University of Toronto (February 23, 2009):
I think Catholics -- and I mean here mainly American Catholics -- need to remember four simple things in the months ahead.

First, all political leaders draw their authority from God. We owe no leader any submission or cooperation in the pursuit of grave evil. In fact, we have the duty to change bad laws and resist grave evil in our public life, both by our words and our non-violent actions. The truest respect we can show to civil authority is the witness of our Catholic faith and our moral convictions, without excuses or apologies.

Second, in democracies, we elect public servants, not messiahs. It's worth recalling that despite two ugly wars, an unpopular Republican president, a fractured Republican party, the support of most of the American news media and massively out-spending his opponent, our new president actually trailed in the election polls the week before the economic meltdown. This subtracts nothing from the legitimacy of his office. It also takes nothing away from our obligation to respect the president's leadership.

But it does place some of today's talk about a "new American mandate" in perspective. Americans, including many Catholics, elected a gifted man to fix an economic crisis. That's the mandate. They gave nobody a mandate to retool American culture on the issues of marriage and the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion in public life and abortion. That retooling could easily happen, and it clearly will happen -- but only if Catholics and other religious believers allow it. It's instructive to note that the one lesson many activists on the American cultural left learned from their loss in the 2004 election -- and then applied in 2008 -- was how to use a religious vocabulary while ignoring some of the key beliefs and values that religious people actually hold dear.

Here's the third thing to remember. It doesn't matter what we claim to believe if we're unwilling to act on our beliefs. What we say about our Catholic faith is the easy part. What we do with it shapes who we really are. Many good Catholics voted for President Obama. Many voted for Senator McCain. Both parties have plenty of decent people in their ranks.

But when we hear that 54 percent of American Catholics voted for President Obama last November, and that this somehow shows a sea change in their social thinking, we can reasonably ask: How many of them practice their faith on a regular basis? And when we do that, we learn that most practicing Catholics actually voted for Senator McCain. Of course, that doesn't really tell us whether anyone voted for either candidate for the right reasons. Nobody can do a survey of the secret places of the human heart. But it does tell us that numbers can be used to prove just about anything. We won't be judged on our knowledge of poll data. We'll be judged on whether we proved it by our actions when we said "I am a Catholic, and Jesus Christ is Lord."

Here's the fourth and final thing to remember, and there's no easy way to say it. The Church in the United States has done a poor job of forming the faith and conscience of Catholics for more than 40 years. And now we're harvesting the results -- in the public square, in our families and in the confusion of our personal lives. I could name many good people and programs that seem to disprove what I just said. But I could name many more that do prove it, and some of them work in Washington.

The problem with mistakes in our past is that they compound themselves geometrically into the future unless we face them and fix them. The truth is, the American electorate is changing, both ethnically and in age. And unless Catholics have a conversion of heart that helps us see what we've become -- that we haven't just "assimilated" to American culture, but that we've also been absorbed and bleached and digested by it -- then we'll fail in our duties to a new generation and a new electorate. And a real Catholic presence in American life will continue to weaken and disappear.
[Hat tip to J.M.]

For my fellow Catholics who voted for Obama

Just when the mind wearies of the topic under the weight of decades of controversy and blandishments of media spin, along comes this little 12-year-old to shame us all:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Called to Communion

Silo-minded Catholics uninterested in any windows interfacing the Catholic and Reformed worlds may wish look the other way for the next minute or two (or peer upwards into their own silos), but there's a very ambitious new ecumenical blog carrying the banner: Called to Communion: Reformation meets Rome. Check it out.

[Hat tip to T.R.]

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A "Denominationalized" Church? Hamstrung Bishops?

A fringe benefit of a heel injury I sustained some months ago is that the only kinds of aerobic exercises my doctor will permit me to do now, also allow me to simultaneously read. So today I while I was working out, I was reading this rather dated book from the period of the scandals in the Church back around 2002, and I came across this fascinating excerpt that made me wonder about some trends toward debilitating Protestant patterns of bureaucratization in the Catholic Church. See what you think:
While there is probably no scientific survey on the question, three and a half decades of experience and anecdotal evidence suggests that the typical diocese today has at least twice, and often four or five times, the number of officials, workers, and bureaucrats as the typical diocese in, say, 1963. Some of this has to do with the expansion of the Catholic Church’s social ministry and with a needed professionalization of some core Catholic activities, including education. It can also be reasonably assumed, however, that this vast expansion of ecclesiastical bureaucracy has a lot to do with the Catholic Church uncritically absorbing the general American tendency toward bureaucratization – and specifically the mainline Protestant denominations’ extensive bureaucratization.

This bureaucratization has had numerous effects. It has required a tremendous increase in the financial resources directed toward Church administration (even though Catholic bureaucrats often work at wages far lower than they might command in society). It has made decision-making sluggish, as virtually every initiative from whatever source, including the bishop, has to be staffed-out, reviewed, run through committees, re-reviewed, and so forth. It has meant that priests and bishops spend an inordinate amount of their time in meetings; time being finite, that in turn has often meant time taken away from prayer, study, writing, teaching, preaching, and simply being present to the Church’s people in homes, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals. This passion for meetings has also slowly and inevitably eroded the sense of headship among both priests and bishops. Structures intended to be consultative often act as if they were deliberative, and it is the courageous priest or bishop who is willing to insist, not as a matter of “authoritarianism” but as a matter of the God-given structure of the Church, that he must be the final decision-maker if the parish or diocese is to function as the Catholic Church and not as another denomination.

Bureaucratization has thus influenced what might be called the “denominationalization” of Catholicism in the United States. And this, too, has made for serious theological difficulties, for the Catholic Church is not, and cannot be, a “denomination” as the term is usually understood in America. A denomination is something with no fixed form, but rather a structure that can be changed at will by its membership; the Catholic church has a form give to it by Christ, and that form involves certain truths (e.g., the sacraments) and certain structures (e.g., the office of bishop) that are not susceptible to change. That Christ-given “form” stands in judgment on the local embodiment of the Church; the local Church doesn’t stand in judgment on it.

A denomination has other features that are, to put it gently, in tension with classic Catholic self-understandings. In a denomination, bureaucratic process is often more important than clear and binding doctrines. In a denomination, porous and shifting boundaries do not present serious problems because group-maintenance is the highest value and “being non-judgmental” is crucial to keeping the group intact. In a denomination, effective moderation of the ongoing discussion about “who we are” is the most sought-after quality in a leader. None of these attributes of the American denomination has very much to do with the Catholic church as it has understood itself for almost two millennia. Yet the church today often displays each of these characteristics in one degree or another.

All of this has had a corrosive effect on the office of bishop in the United States, and specifically on the bishops’ self-understanding. The current crisis has also brought to the surface another unhappy quality of bureaucracies – their difficulty in facing really serious problems. Bureaucracies everywhere are averse to confrontation. The grave problems of clergy sexual abuse, and the problem of the culture of dissent that helped make it possible, have made it painfully clear, however, that confrontation is what is sometimes needed. When the local bishop delegates key areas of responsibility to bureaucrats, even fellow clergy, he inevitably loses some part of his sacramentally conferred mandate to govern, and his leadership is inevitably weakened….
One paragraph was particularly telling for me -- the one containing this sentence: "In a denomination, effective moderation of the ongoing discussion about 'who we are' is the most sought-after quality in a leader." In fact, this sentence reminded me of a statement I read somewhere that when an institution begins worrying about mission statements, that's almost a sure sign it's lost sight of its identity and mission.

I can recall being in what I would describe as "full-service Catholic parishes," which are burgeoning with programs and activities for old and young alike. There are youth groups, young adult groups, supreme timers, Knights of Columbus, mothers’ groups, choir practice, Wednesday evening church dinners, mission trips, talent shows, dances, parish picnics, scouting programs, food drives, Blood Mobile drives, Habitat for Humanity projects, Alcoholics Anonymous, Lenten Yoga programs (honest!) -- and much, much more. They take “involvement” seriously. These parishes pride themselves in being very active, “full-service” parishes.

But I've sometimes wondered: What is the overall purpose and mission of these parishes? Officially, they may say (in their mission statement!) that it’s to promote “an evangelizing spirit which meets the needs" of their parishioners and "reaches out to others.” But what does that mean? What are these “needs” they intend to meet? What is intended by an “evangelizing spirit”? It’s clear that whoever writes these sorts of mission statements wants visitors to feel “welcome” in their parish "communities." They have greeters stationed to meet them when they arrive. They have a “Landings” program designed to welcome inactive Catholics back home, and “RCIA” to invite inquiring non-Catholics to consider becoming part of their “church family.” But what’s the purpose of this beehive of parish activities, this “family” they’re inviting outsiders to join? Does it exist for its own sake? “Getting involved” and “participating in community life” provide a sense of “belonging,” and that is widely assumed to be a good. Is this the “need” they’re trying to meet? Is this what it means to have “an evangelizing spirit”? More importantly, who is deciding all of this; and who is deciding who decides this?

You see, the problem here is that the entire task of the Church in the world has been misplaced where it was never meant to be. The task of the Church was clearly specified in the Great Commission, and it was entrusted to the Apostles and to their successor Bishops in the Church, who are the proper caretakers of the mission to whom it has been entrusted by Christ. The task of the Church was never meant to be brought to the floor of a parish committee for questioning and creative revisioning. This is all so ... sixties. Wait ... I think I'm having flashbacks ... Is that The Fifth Dimension I hear singing "Let the Sunshine In"? Or was that the latest Marty Haugen Gathering Hymn adopted from the most recent ELCA Convention? Ahhhhhhh!!!!! Give it all to Grega!!!

Oh, yes, the book from which the excerpt was taken was George Weigel's The Courage To Be Catholic (New York: Basic Books, 2002), 97-100.

60s revolutionaries now are the establishment

Remember Jerry Rubin? Abbie Hoffman? "Don't trust anyone over 30, man!" Last I heard, Hoffman is dead, and Rubin is in business. Anyway, it's time for the radicals of the sixties, if they are still alive, to wake up and face the music: because now they are "the establishment." If it's still cool to be the cultural dissenters in prophetic opposition to the establishment, their position has been coopted by, you guessed it: traditionalists.

Here's what Robert Bork writes in “Conservatism and the Culture” (A Time to Speak”, ISI Books, 2008, rpt. The Canon, Spring, 2009, p.21):
We are now two nations. These are not, as Disraeli had it, the rich and the poor, or, as the presidential commissions regularly proclaim, whites and blacks. Instead, we are two cultural nations. One embodies the counterculture of the 1960s, which is today the dominant culture. Their values are propagated from the commanding heights of the culture: university faculties, journalists, television and movie producers, the ACLU, and major segments of the Democratic Party. The other nation, of those who adhere to traditional norms and morality, is now a dissident culture.

Anti-semitism, anti-Catholicism and repentance: a Lenten reflection

Michael Liccione, writing in "Sacramental Contradiction" (Sacramentum Vitae< offers a searching meditation on the meaning of repentance taking as his subject London Times religion correspondent Ruth Glendhill's recent astonishing commentary on the recent flap over SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson. She is angry that the Pope has lifted the excommunication on the holocaust-denying bishop, but that the Vatican continues to officially ban from communion unjustly abandoned spouses who proceed to divorce and remarry. She sees this -- surprise, surprise -- as unfair. Luccione writes:
It's just assumed that the Catholic Church's teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, which is the key premise of her policy about divorce and remarriage, is false—and not only false, but wicked to believe and act on. That assumption is religious prejudice. But Williamson's religious prejudice is deemed wicked because it's—what? Religious prejudice? Maybe that's the reason, maybe not; but I do see that the question why the prejudice is held doesn't matter to the Ruth Gledhills of the world.

A Prayer of Adoration

My God, I adore Thee, as holy in all Thy works as well as in Thy own nature. No creature can approach Thy incommunicable sanctity, but Thou approachest, and touchest, and possesseth, all creatures; and nothing lives but in Thee, and nothing hast Thou created but what is good.

I adore Thee as having created man upright, and having bountifully given him an integrity of nature and having filled him with Thy free grace, so that he was like an Angel upon earth; and I adore Thee, for having given him Thy grace over again in still more measure, and with far more lasting fruits, through Thy Eternal Son incarnate. In all Thy works Thou art holy, and I adore Thee in them all.

The Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

[Acknowledgement: A Newman Prayer Book (Vincent F. Blehl, S.J., 1990), p. 2.]

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lent 2009

"Remember man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return."
(see Gen 3:19)

"Repent ye, and believe the Gospel." (Mk 1:15)

Ash Wednesday

The Wednesday after Quinquagesima Sunday, which is the first day of the Lenten fast.

The name dies cinerum (day of ashes) which it bears in the Roman Missal is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary and probably dates from at least the eighth century. On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead -- or in case of clerics upon the place of the tonsure -- of each the sign of the cross, saying the words: "Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return." The ashes used in this ceremony are made by burning the remains of the palms blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. In the blessing of the ashes four prayers are used, all of them ancient. The ashes are sprinkled with holy water and fumigated with incense. The celebrant himself, be he bishop or cardinal, receives, either standing or seated, the ashes from some other priest, usually the highest in dignity of those present. In earlier ages a penitential procession often followed the rite of the distribution of the ashes, but this is not now prescribed.

("Ash Wednesday," Catholic Encyclopedia)


The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days' fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season. Still it has been used from the Anglo-Saxon period to translate the more significant Latin term quadragesima (French carême, Italian quaresima, Spanish cuaresma), meaning the "forty days", or more literally the "fortieth day."

("Lent," Catholic Encyclopedia)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Nancy Pelosi, Holocaust-denier

I was watching the news at work today and there was this interview with Pelosi concerning Gitmo. I was simply appalled to witness again that this unflattering specimen of human flotsam has bobbed her way across the Potomac to become, in truth, Speaker of the House. Isn't it the Peter Principle that a person rises to the level of his incompetence? But Pelosi wouldn't even have made a decent high school lunch room monitor! She doesn't have the moral authority to face down a first grade school yard bully. She doesn't even look much more intelligent than she is, sad to say. I trolled Google images for an accurate image of her to post, but concluded that they were all so hideously unflattering I couldn't quite bring myself in good conscience to post any of them.

Then, along came this:

George Neumayr, "Benedict and the Abortion Holocaust-Deniers" (American Spectator, February 19, 2009):
Pope Benedict XVI met with a holocaust-denier yesterday. Bishop Richard Williamson? No, Nancy Pelosi.

A Pelosi-led delegation of Catholic Democrats who dismiss the moral significance of millions upon millions of abortions turned up at the Vatican yesterday.

Last month these same abortion-holocaust deniers had lectured Benedict for mishandling the flap over Richard Williamson's lifted excommunication.

Seizing on a chance to embarrass the Pope, fifty Catholic Democrats, Rosa DeLauro and George Miller among them, wrote a letter to him demanding a "clarification" in the Williamson matter. (He had already done so, but they felt it just wasn't emphatic enough.)

"Bishop Williamson has said as recently as this past November that, 'historical evidence is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy by Adolf Hitler.' Yet, the Holocaust is a verifiable fact and as people of good will would agree, one of the darkest chapters in our history as a human family. There are still thousands of people amongst us -- Jews and non-Jews -- who can attest through eye-witness accounts to the horrors of the Holocaust," they wrote in part.

"As a spiritual leader and the head of the Catholic Church, we believe it is vital that you publicly state your unequivocal position on this matter so that it is clear where the Church stands on one of the most consequential events of the 20th century…"

William Delahunt, who pulls down a 100% rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League, piously explained to the Boston Globethe pressing need for this letter of rebuke. "The moral authority of the church is important to retain, and having those statements out there was unacceptable," he said.

Pro-abortion Catholic Democrats don't normally warm to the cause of preserving the Church's moral authority, and certainly not to the concept of excommunication. But in Williamson they had finally found a Catholic not fit for entrance to their communion line.

They would of course say that an important difference exists between them and Williamson. And they are right: He opined egregiously about a historical evil; they finance and facilitate a contemporary one. Engaging in appalling historical speculation about past evil is bad; paying for a present evil as they do is worse.

It is rich that after slapping Benedict's hand over Williamson they would tumble over themselves to kiss it on Wednesday. To its credit, the Vatican denied them a photo-op, though quickly after the meeting Pelosi cranked up the PC wind machine to spin it as constructive.

"It is with great joy that my husband, Paul, and I met with His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, today. In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church's leadership in fighting poverty, hunger, and global warming, as well as the Holy Father's dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel. I was proud to show His Holiness a photograph of my family's papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren."

Global warming? The last time I recall Benedict broaching the subject of global warming he pointedly observed that environmentalists need a "human ecology" with which to stop killing unborn babies.

The Vatican's post-meeting description was diplomatically devastating in its clinical tone: "His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."

In January pro-abortion Catholic Democrats angrily asked if the Vatican would force Williamson to recant. This month the Pope in effect asked them if they will. Will Pelosi, DeLauro, and company disavow their views? Or will they continue to rationalize, minimize and revise the massive, ongoing holocaust of unborn human life?

[Hat tip to S.K.]

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2010 Latin Liturgy National Convention in Detroit-Windsor

Tridentine Community News (February 22, 2009):
2010 Latin Liturgy Association National Convention to be Jointly Hosted by St. Josaphat – Assumption-Windsor – St. Joseph – Sweetest Heart of Mary – St. Albertus Churches in Detroit & Windsor

After months of planning and meetings here and at Latin Liturgy Association headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, the host churches listed above and the Latin Liturgy Association are pleased to announce that Detroit and Windsor will host the next National Convention of the Latin Liturgy Association, Friday through Sunday, July 16-18, 2010.

The weekend of November 29, 2008, Latin Liturgy Association President James Pauer visited our area and the proposed host churches, and heard a presentation by the organizing parties. With our beautiful historic churches, accomplished music programs, and international angle, Detroit-Windsor won over the two other cities being considered.

Founded in 1975, the original charter of the LLA was to promote the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass in Latin. After the Holy See’s publication of the 1984 indult Quáttuor Abhinc Annos, the LLA also began to promote the celebration of the Tridentine Form of Holy Mass.

In the pre-Internet, pre-Una Voce era, the LLA was essentially the only voice in North America promoting the Latin Mass in union with Rome. Its monthly newsletters were lengthy listings of news, press clippings, and Mass schedule updates. Before anyone else thought of the idea, the LLA assembled – and printed twice per annum – a directory of all U.S. and Canadian Latin Mass sites.

Nowadays, the Internet has usurped the LLA’s role as principal news distributor. Blogs like the New Liturgical Movement and Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s publish an incredible volume of news on a daily basis, reflecting the accelerating pace of developments in the traditional liturgical world. The Latin Mass Magazine and the Una Voce Newsletter publish articles of the kind that one used to see only in the LLA Newsletter, which now comes out only a few times per year. Several Tridentine Mass directories now exist; today, the LLA limits their directory only to list Ordinary Form Latin Masses, as no one else maintains such a listing. This directory is published on-line at But no one in North America has yet successfully matched the LLA’s expertise in organizing conventions that showcase the very best in traditional liturgical speakers and Latin liturgical events.

Special thanks to Frs. Borkowski and Hrytsyk, the Windsor Tridentine Mass Association Board at Assumption Church, and the St. Josaphat Parish Council for pursuing this hosting effort. A high standard has been set by previous host cities and parishes; we must do the same or better.

Format of the Convention

Typically, the convention begins on a Friday morning, with a bus tour of historic churches. Detroit and Windsor have numerous architecturally significant churches that are ideal for such a tour. The bus tour visits churches that are not hosting any of the conference’s liturgical events, as people will visit those churches anyway. On Friday evening, the Rosary is recited in one of the host churches.

Saturday begins with a Novus Ordo Latin Mass. Talks by an international spectrum of speakers fill the rest of the day, with Vespers late in the afternoon and one more talk after dinner.

Sunday starts off with a talk, followed by a Solemn High Tridentine Mass – often a Pontifical Mass if it can be arranged. Lunch and more talks carry into the afternoon, and Benediction concludes the convention.

The liturgical events are spread across different churches. Historically, the LLA Convention has attracted 150-300 people, some from out of town, plus a significant local population. A vendor area in the hall where the talks are held lets a variety of businesses showcase books, vestments, and other pertinent items.

The Real Work Begins Soon

A broad range of volunteers will be needed. First and foremost, an advertising campaign targeted at our local area will need to be crafted. The bus tour will need to be arranged (churches contacted, buses hired, etc.). Volunteers at each church will need to be identified and scheduled to open up, conduct tours, and close up. Each host church will need people to set up and take down before and after the liturgies. Parish hall(s) that host the talks and meals will need greeters, cooks, kitchen helpers, and people to clean up afterwards. Music programs will need to be arranged, programs will need to be printed, liturgies planned, speakers invited, travel arranged, trips to and from the airport provided, and so on. It is not unreasonable to think that we will need at least 30 active volunteers to make everything happen.

This significant undertaking promises to bring positive attention not only to our parishes, but also to the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Diocese of London. The LLA Convention usually attracts national press coverage in the Catholic media. As this column has repeatedly stated, the number of Tridentine Mass sites in our region has blossomed since the publication of Summórum Pontíficum, thus it is entirely appropriate that our area host such a convention at this time in Church history. This is both a unique means of promoting the Latin Liturgy locally, as well as a rare opportunity to interact with the speakers and music experts who attend this prominent event.

[Comments? Ideas for a future column? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for February 22, 2009. Hat tip to A.B.]

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Whiskey and machine guns with Hunter S. Thompson

If you ever wondered what the70s (really, the yield of the 60s) has to do with the way today's society has turned out, just have a look at this video clip of Conan O'Brien's filmed visit to a firing range at the invitation of legendary author and gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Whiskey, shotguns, and machine guns served up in a tux. Mmmm-hmmmm.

[Hat tip to T.K.]

Even in this Obamanable recession ...

Professor Mark J. Perry's Blog for Economics and Finance reports: "Consumer Loan Growth: 10%" (Carpe Diem, February 20, 2009).

[Hat tip to T.K.]

Sodom, Oh Sodom

Manya Brachear and Margaret Ramirez, "Lutheran task force recommends changing gay-clergy policy" (Chicago Tribune, February 19, 2009): "A task force of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recommended Thursday that its leaders make changes to allow gay and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy."

Oh, but never fear, if you aren't quite on the bandwagon yet: "At the same time, the task force also asked members of the church to respect congregations and synods that disagree because they believe such actions would violate Scripture."

Furthermore -- and here's the real sigh of relief (these people are so considerate of their "weaker brethren"): "If approved, the measures would change current church policy that allows ordination of gay clergy, but requires them to be celibate." (emphasis added)

[Hat tip to S.F.]

Paul VI on the “smoke of Satan,” June 29, 1972

I was talking about this with one of my colleagues about this a couple days ago, who described the event in detail, saying that the Pope departed from the text of his homily at the point of his vision or trance. He sent me the following with permission to post it online:
In his homily given on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29, 1972, Pope Paul VI made a famous remark about the “smoke of Satan” entering into the temple of God. The full text of the homily was not reproduced in the Vatican collection of Paul VI’s teachings (Insegnamenti di Paulo VI Vol. X, 1972). Instead, a summary of the homily was given. Within the summary, however, there are some direct quotes from the Pontiff. Two of these are memorable for their references to Satan and the preternatural.

The Holy Father asserts that he has the feeling that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God” (da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio (Insegnamenti [1972], 707).

Later, he is quoted as saying: “We believe … that something preternatural has come into the world specifically to disturb, to suffocate the fruits of the Ecumenical Council, and to prevent the Church from breaking out in a hymn of joy for having recovered in fullness the awareness of herself (Crediamo … in qualcosa di preternaturale venunto nel mondo proprio per turbare, per soffocare i frutti del Concilio Ecumenico, e per impedire che la Chiesa prorompesse nell’inno della gioia di aver riavuto in pienezza la coscienza di sé (Insegnamenti [1972], 708).

(notes and translations by R. Fastiggi)

In his general audience of Nov. 15, 1972, Paul VI addressed in more detail the reality of the Devil. He stated that one of the greatest needs of the Church today is the defense against that evil we call the Devil. (Insegnamenti [1972], 1168-1173).
[Hat tip to Prof. R.F.]

Friday, February 20, 2009

Who is more Catholic than the Pope?

Poor Mark Shea. Poor George Weigel. "By all accounts so far, 2009 has been a very challenging year for Neocon-variety Catholics," writes Brian Mershon in "A bad year for the Neocon Catholics" (Renew America, February 15, 2009). A bit on Shea. A lot on Weigel, especially on his questioning of the Pope's recent decision in re the SSPX. Some counterpoint with Rome's Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro and analysis of Abp. Lefebvre's opposition to theological modernism (as opposed to modernity), and, especially interesting to me, a section in which Dr. Alcuin Reid weighs in on the controversy in the UK's Catholic Herald, seconding Msgr. Barreiro's views on the Second Vatican Council and the SSPX. Very interesting.

'America as the Last Man Standing'

Have any of you seen this? Pretty depressing. It's a speech, entitled "America as the Last Man Standing," made by Geert Wilders, chairman of the Party for Freedom, the Netherlands, 25 September 2008 (Hudson Institute), about the Islamization of Europe.

'Homegrown Jihad'

Delightful little film on thirty some Jihadist training camps across the United States protected by U.S. law. Lovely. Again, all alarmist xenophobia of course. Don't worry. Be happy. Sleep well.

"Milton Friedman Proud Father of Global Misery"

Damon W. Root follows up on Nick Gillespie's post on Sen. Bernie Sanders' silly rant about how Milton Friedman's "ideology caused enormous damage to the American middle class and to working families here and around the world," with a post in which he says: "For a definitive explanation of why Friedman deserves none of the hate or blame heaped on him by the likes of Sanders, Naomi Klein, and other leftists, see Johan Norberg's classic Reason feature "Defaming Milton Friedman." For a detailed account of Friedman's many accomplishments, see Brian Doherty's "The Life and Times of Milton Friedman." And for the last word, here's the man himself.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Huffing and puffing at Huffington Post

Franky Schaeffer is blowing prodigious bagfulls of hot air again -- or is that sucking hot air, as in an unctious, oleagionous, saponaceous suck up to Obama in his "Open Letter to President Obama About the Republicans (From a Former Republican)" (The Huffington Post, February 19, 2009):
As you showed us again at your press conference of Feb 9, you are a brilliant, articulate and decent man. Your Republican opponents are not decent people but ideologues bent on destroying you. To quote the biblical adage sir, don't cast your pearls before swine.
It takes one to know one.

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Prayer to the Eternal God

To possess Thee, Lover of Souls, is happiness, and the only happiness of the immortal soul. To enjoy the sight of Thee is the only happiness of eternity. What can give me happiness but Thee? To see Thee, to contemplate Thee, this alone is inexhaustible. Thou indeed art unchangeable, yet in Thee there are always more glorious depths and more varied attributes to search into; we shall ever be beginning as if we had never gazed upon Thee. How far am I from acting according to what I know so well! Rouse me from sloth and coldness, and make me desire Thee with my whole heart.
[Acknowledgement: A Newman Prayer Book (Vincent F. Blehl, S.J., 1990), p. 1.]

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A borderless country?

Apparently we have no southern border anymore. A single Arizona rancher named Roger Barnett has turned over 12,000 illegal aliens crossing his property since 1998. Now we're allegedly catching about a dozen Arabs a month coming up from the south. Mr. Obama, welcome Mr. Osama: "Marching toward hell" (Glenn Beck interviews Michael Sheuer). All alarmist, of course.

Schools with 'benefits'

Last year, Lenoir-Rhyne College changed it's name to Lenoir-Rhyne University:
  • "If nothing else, 'Lenoir-Rhyne University' just sounds better," he said. "The university name is just going to enhance any degree you have. I'd rather graduate from a university than a college any day." (A freshman to the Charlotte Observer on March 23, 2008)
  • "Personally, I think they should have gone with Lenoir-Rhyne College University School." (LRC alumnus, Charlotte, NC)
  • "I guess I'm lucky. Once my LRC hi-top fade grows back in, I'll be all set to add the U...." (LRC alumnus, Asheville, NC)
  • "I had to have the "C" on my LRC tattoo rotated 90 degrees, which was extremely painful..." (LRC alumnus, Charlotte, NC)
[Hat tip to C.B.]

SSPX "speedy resolution" still possible?

Brian Mershon, "SSPX update: Vatican insider projects speedy resolution" (Renew America, February 14, 2009), carries the subtitle: "Bishop Fellay 'confident' on doctrinal discussions; Pope expects to see full communion 'promptly realized'"; and the article carries a thoroughgoing summary under the following, occasionally provocative, headings:
  • Vatican Working on Stable Juridical Structure
  • France's Seminaries to be Over One-Third Traditionalist
  • Vatican II and All the Councils
  • Cardinal Ratzinger Recommends Bishops Examine their Consciences
  • Pope Benedict Urges Bishops to Pastoral Solicitude and Reconciliation
  • Vatican Will Not Demand SSPX Swallow the Council
Two observations. First, as to content, Mershon's analysis assumes a detailed acquaintance with the minutiae of the history of Vatican-SSPX relations. Hence, beware of overhasty generalizations based on first-hand impressions. Second, as to timetable, this article was first published on January 28, 2009, and the question looms as to how much damage the Bishop Williamson affair may have generated, much to the delight of many who would like to see Pope Benedict's project of reconciling the SSPX derailed.

Sexagesima Sunday

In a touch of austerity anticipating the approach of Lent, the Gloria is not sung today in the Gregorian liturgy. It was noticeably absent from Mass at Assumption Catholic Church in Windsor, Canada, across the river from Detroit, where we assisted today. According to the traditional Roman calendar, this is the second of the Sundays in “pre-Lent,” called Sexagesima, as in the Latin for the “Sixtieth” day before Easter. This number is more symbolic than arithmetical. Last week was the first of these pre-Lenten Sundays, Septuagesima or “Seventieth." For a good discussion of the history and liturgy, read Fr. Zuhlsdorf's "Sexagesima" (WDTPRS, February 14, 2009).

Una Voce comments on Manila guidelines

Leo Darroch, Executive President of the International Federation Una Voce (February 11, 2009):
There is so much in error with these guidelines that even though they mention the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, it is clear that the person who drafted the guidelines cannot possibly have read the Motu Proprio....
Read the rest of the lengthy analysis and critique: "Una Voce Comments on Manila Guidelines" (Rorate Caeli, February 13, 2009).

National Shrine of the Little Flower to Host Special Extraordinary Form Mass

Tridentine Community News (February 15, 2009):
In perhaps the most amazing example yet of local fruits of our Holy Father’s Motu Proprio, Summórum Pontíficum, the landmark National Shrine of the Little Flower in Royal Oak will be holding a special Tridentine Mass on Wednesday, March 18 at 7:00 PM. The celebrant will be Msgr. George Browne, who regularly celebrates the Traditional Mass not only at St. Josaphat, but also at Sacred Heart in Yale and St. Edward on the Lake in Lakeport.

Shrine is one of few pre-Vatican II churches to be constructed in the round. The altar is at the center of the church, surrounded by a communion rail. A ceiling-mounted baldachino is suspended above the altar. Seating is available on the main floor as well as in a balcony surrounding the church. One of the Archdiocese’s largest pipe organs is built into the building, with some pipes even installed below the floor. Because of these architectural details, very little was done to modify the church after Vatican II to make it possible to celebrate Mass facing the people, despite the parish’s ability to afford modifications. And thus we have a church perfectly suited to the Traditional Latin Mass today.

Shrine has always had a contingent of devotees of the Extraordinary Form. This group has been quietly asking for a Tridentine Mass there since the 1990s. Many of them now attend St. Josaphat. Gregorian Chant classes have also been offered in the past. It is not surprising that the seeds of their low-key advocacy are bearing fruit. The scale was tipped when Shrine’s RCIA Director, John LaCroix, decided that it would be beneficial to expose his students to a wider variety of Catholic liturgy. The Tridentine Mass in one example. He also plans to hold an Eastern Rite liturgy there soon.

What makes Shrine especially newsworthy as the site for a Tridentine Mass is that it is one of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s largest parishes in terms of the number of registered families. With over 12,000 parishioners and elementary, middle, and high schools, it’s a busy place. Its unique architecture and convenient suburban location make it a marvelous setting in which to expose a great number of people to the Church’s Historic Liturgy.

Every Celebration of the Extraordinary Form Is to Be Commended

It is important that all Tridentine Mass celebrations be given due credit, whether regular (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) or special occasion. Indeed, it is special occasion Masses that can create new interest in the Extraordinary Form, as more Catholics become aware of their liturgical patrimony.

We applaud the National Shrine of the Little Flower for taking this initiative. We encourage all of our readers to attend Shrine’s historic Tridentine Mass on March 18.
[Comments? Ideas for a future column? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for February 15, 2009. Hat tip to A.B.]

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Liberalism in a nutshell

A reader from Seattle writes, quoting President Obama:
"It is absolutely true that we can't depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs." -- President Obama.
The reader then comments: "What resources? Every penny they “have” is borrowed! The only “resource” they have is the (liberal) will to spend other people’s money! Let people keep more of their own money in the first place!


Friday, February 13, 2009

Can you believe people voted for this?

Only slightly less disturbing than what they're actually planning ...

[Hat tip to Old World Swine via Akin, and K.K.]

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Perniciously misleading spin

"Vatican Accepts Darwin's Theory Of Evolution Compatible With Christianity" (AHN, February 12, 2009).

This may not be inaccurate reporting, if indeed it is true, as the article states, that "Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said Darwin's theory which the Church was against in the past, is compatible with Christianity." Nevertheless, it remains egregiously confusing and misleading publicity. "Darwin's theory" is far from being a tidy, uncomplicated package of ideas. There are inconsistencies within it, and there is much that is rejected by Darwin's own contemporary stepchildren and proponents; and there are elements in it that are clearly inimical to the Catholic Faith. "Sound bites," of course, are not the stuff of subtle analysis; but misleading statements can be highly problematic and fatally confusing the the faithful. It is broadly supposed now that the Vatican dropped the ball in the publicity department in the instance of the Holocaust-denying bishop. Yet the Vatican's publicity on the question of the theory of Evolution has been consistently confused and confusing ever since Pope John Paul II's 1996 "Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution," which was widely interpreted by both elated liberals and alarmed reactionaries, in the absence of forthcoming caveats and clarification, as an unqualified pontifical embrace of Evolution as a "fact," simpliciter.

It would have been helpful if the Vatican publicity personnel could have acknowledged at least the complexity of the issue. Notre Dame University's Reformed philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, at least had the presence of mind in addressing the issue some years ago to ferret out no less than five distinct claims resident within the "Grand Evolutionary Story":
The first thing to see is that a number of different large-scale claims fall under this general rubric of evolution. First, there is the claim that the earth is very old, perhaps some 4.5 billion years old: The Ancient Earth Thesis, as we may call it. Second, there is the claim that life has progressed from relatively simple to relatively complex forms of life. In the beginning there was relatively simple unicellular life, perhaps of the sort represented by bacteria and blue green algae, or perhaps still simpler unknown forms of life. (Although bacteria are simple compared to some other living beings, they are in fact enormously complex creatures.) Then more complex unicellular life, then relatively simple multicellular life such as seagoing worms, coral, and jelly fish, then fish, then amphibia, then reptiles, birds, mammals, and finally, as the culmination of the whole process, human beings: the Progress Thesis, as we humans may like to call it (jelly fish might have a different view as to where to whole process culminates). Third, there is the Common Ancestry Thesis: that life originated at only one place on earth, all subsequent life being related by descent to those original living creatures-the claim that, as Stephen Could puts it, there is a "tree of evolutionary descent linking all organisms by ties of genealogy."12 According to the Common Ancestry Thesis, we are literally cousins of all living things-horses, oak trees and even poison ivy-distant cousins, no doubt, but still cousins. (This is much easier to imagine for some of us than for others.) Fourth, there is the claim that there is a (naturalistic) explanation of this development of fife from simple to complex forms; call this thesis Darwinism, because according to the most popular and well-known suggestions, the evolutionary mechanism would be natural selection operating on random genetic mutation (due to copy error or ultra violet radiation or other causes); and this is similar to Darwin's proposals. Finally, there is the claim that life itself developed from non-living matter without any special creative activity of God but just by virtue of the ordinary laws of physics and chemistry: call this the Naturalistic Origins Thesis. These five theses are of course importantly different from each other. They are also logically independent in pairs, except for the third and fourth theses: the fourth entails the third, in that you can't sensibly propose a mechanism or an explanation for evolution without agreeing that evolution has indeed occurred. The combination of all five of these theses is what I have been calling 'The Grand Evolutionary Story'; the Common Ancestry Thesis together with Darwinism (remember, Darwinism isn't the view that the mechanism driving evolution is just what Darwin says it is) is what one most naturally thinks of as the Theory of Evolution.
This would be a start, at least; and the kind of care in presuppositional analysis that Plantinga's little piece goes on to display is a welcome antidote to the flat-footed statements emanating from the Vatican.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Historical expert on the Popes

Dr. James Ramon Felak, Associate Professor of History at the University of Washington in Seattle, was invited this year to give the prestigious Costigan Lecture Series at UW on the Popes of the 20th Century.

A correspondent from Seattle writes: "[Prof. Felak] is a very dynamic speaker and that his History of Christianity course at UW is packed, but still, this lecture series is an amazing opportunity to educate people."

But here, you can see for yourself: Prof. Felak was just interviewed on Catholic radio in Seattle on Pius XII. This half-hour conversation gives an idea of his substance and style.

[Hat tip to K.K.]

Tridentine Travelogue! Top 10 Music Programs

Tridentine Community News (February 8, 2009):
Tridentine Travelogue: Top 10 Music Programs
Outside of Metro Detroit

One of the most identifying aspects of the Latin Mass in both Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms is the sacred music employed. The Church has a vast collection of compositions, both chant and polyphonic, that have been written for her liturgy. A Latin Mass is uniquely capable of making full use of that music.

Indeed, a recurring topic of discussion at St. Josaphat and Assumption-Windsor is our music program. How can we improve it? How can we strike a balance between becoming familiar with a certain repertoire, yet continue to expand that repertoire? We can learn from others: Today’s column recaps information presented in previous columns and presents an entirely subjective list of music programs that excel. These are not special-occasion-only sites; their sacred music is dependably exceptional most any non-summer Sunday of the year. This list is based only on places that this author has visited or been made aware of, so it is by no means comprehensive. And there is no particular order to this list.

1. Brompton Oratory, London England (OF and occasional EF): The music at the London Oratory is extraordinary for its level of commitment. Various choirs accompany many liturgies, from the crowded Sunday Novus Ordo Latin Mass, to Sunday afternoon Vespers, to the humble Monday evening Benediction. The music program is simply integral to the life of the parish.

2. St. John Cantius, Chicago, Illinois (EF & OF): This celebrated parish boasts six choirs, each of which performs traditional repertoire, for different purposes.

3. St. Agnes, St. Paul, Minnesota (EF & OF): North America’s home for Orchestral Masses, St. Agnes offers a staggering number of major polyphonic works during the course of a year.

4. St. Stephen, Portland, Oregon (EF & OF): St. Stephen is the home of America’s most accomplished professional choir, Cantores in Ecclesia. Their sound, as well as their efforts to promote sacred music via festivals, a web site, and other means, is unrivaled elsewhere.

5. St. Michael’s Abbey, Silverado, California (OF): The setting is spartan: a small, bare, white-walled chapel. But the sound! A glorious, synchronized group of approximately 35 priests and brothers singing Norbertine Chant, a modified form of Gregorian Chant. Most of the singing is a capella. The best part for travelers in Southern California on business: A sung Latin (OF) Mass is offered there every Tuesday and Thursday at 7:00 AM.

6. Sacred Heart, New Haven, Connecticut (EF): Much like the choir at Assumption-Windsor, Sacred Heart’s choir is comprised of musicians who have responsibilities at other parishes on Sunday mornings. They come to Sacred Heart at 2:00 PM after those assignments, to sing the music they want to sing. A labor of love, their “St. Gregory Society” has put out several CDs of their work.

7. St. Mary, Cadogan Street, London, England (OF): Though attendance at this church nestled in a posh neighborhood is rather small, a surprisingly large professional-grade choir leads the music.

8. St. James, Spanish Place, London, England (OF): Much like St. Mary, above, St. James’ choir also has a powerful, professional sound. The choir sings from a third-floor gallery above and to the right of the congregation, completely out of sight.

9. St. Frances de Sales, St. Louis, Missouri (EF): Strength in numbers: This bustling parish offers a music program that involves the congregation to a greater degree than many others. Singing Gregorian Chant resoundingly with 800 others crowding the pews around you can be a transforming experience.

10. St. Paul Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts (OF): Longtime readers of this column know that this church is the favorite of this writer. The church’s remarkable acoustics, the Boston Archdiocesan (Boys’) Choir School, Men’s Schola, and dual antiphonal organs played at the Sunday 11:00 AM Mass provide a musical experience that cannot be matched anywhere else. Go. There. Soon.

What Are Your Favorites?

In your travels outside Metro Detroit and Windsor, have you encountered any particularly noteworthy music programs? The criteria we ask for is that the music be largely in Latin, be for a Catholic Mass, and the program be of a traditional nature. Please e-mail us at the below address with details and your experiences, and we’ll publish your nominations in a future column.

St. Patrick, Kinkora Commences Tridentine Mass

Fr. Paul Nicholson is a friend to a number of readers of this column. Currently assigned to historic St. Patrick Church in the farm fields outside of Stratford, Ontario, Fr. Nicholson has been preparing for several months to offer a weekly Extraordinary Form Mass. He is now offering a Low Mass every Sunday at noon, making this the third Tridentine Mass site in the Diocese of London. He hopes to turn it into a Missa Cantata if musicians can be organized. Members of the Assumption Church-Windsor Tridentine Mass Community have assisted with training and supplies: Sharp-eyed readers will recognize that Fr. Nicholson is wearing one of Assumption’s chasubles in the adjacent photo from a practice session. St. Patrick’s will also be joining the roster of churches using the Assumption/St. Josaphat weekly Latin/English Propers Handouts. For further information, visit St. Patrick’s web site at:
[Comments? Ideas for a future column? Please e-mail Previous columns are available at This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat bulletin insert for February 8, 2009. Hat tip to A.B.]

Saturday, February 07, 2009

From the front: a Marine's View of the Iraqi Election

Sent: 2/5/2009 6:07:00 PM
Subject: A Marine's View of the Iraqi Election

Commander Multi National Force-Iraq Election Comments

MajGen John Kelly, USMC, Commander MNF-West, comments on the election are copied below:

All Hands:

Major General John Kelly sends this Iraq election notice

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

I don't suppose this will get much coverage in the States as the news is so good. No, the news is unbelievable.

Something didn't happen in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, today. Once the most violent and most dangerous places on earth, no suicide vest bomber detonated killing dozens of voters. No suicide truck bomber drove into a polling place collapsing the building and killing and injuring over 100. No Marine was in a firefight engaging an Al Qaida terrorist trying to disrupt democracy.

What did happen was Anbar Sunnis came out in their tens of thousands to vote in the first free election of their lives.

With the expectation of all of the above (suicide bombers) they walked miles (we shut down all vehicle traffic with the exception of some shuttle busses for the elderly and infirm) to the polling places. I slept under the stars with some Grunts at Combat Outpost Iba on the far side of Karma, and started driving the 200 miles up the Euphrates River Valley through Karma, Fallujah, Habbiniyah, Ramadi, Hit, Baghdad and back here to Al Asad. I stopped here and there to speak with cops, soldiers, Marines, and most importantly, regular Iraqi men and women along the way. It was the same everywhere. A tension with every finger on a trigger that broke at perhaps 3PM when we all began to think what was almost unthinkable a year ago. We might just pull this off without a bombing. No way. By 4PM it seemed like we'd make it to 5PM when the polls closed. At 4:30 the unbelievable happened: the election was extended an hour to 6PM because of the large crowds! What are they kidding? Tempting fate like that is not nice. Six PM and the polls close without a single act of violence or a single accusation of fraud, and nearly by early reports pretty close to 100% voted. Priceless.

Every Anbari walking towards the polling place had these determined and, frankly, concerned looks on their faces. No children with them (here mothers and grandmothers are NEVER without their children or grandchildren) because of the expectation of death. Husbands voted separately from wives, and mothers separately from fathers for the same reason. In and out quickly to be less of a target for the expected suicide murderer. When they came out after voting they also wore the same expression on their faces, but now one of smiling amazement as they held up and stared at ink stained index fingers.

Norman Rockwell could not have captured this wonderment. Even the ladies voted in large numbers and their husbands didn't insist on going into the booths to tell them who to vote for.

One of the things I've always said was that we came here to "give" them democracy. Even in the dark days my only consolation was that it was about freedom and democracy. After what I saw today, and having forgotten our own history and revolution, this was arrogance. People are not given freedom and democracy - they take it for themselves. The Anbaris deserve this credit.

Today I step down as the dictator, albeit benevolent, of Anbar Province. Today the Anbaris took it from me. I am ecstatic. It was a privilege to be part of it, to have somehow in a small way to have helped make it happen.

Semper Fi.

[Hat tip to K.K.]

Limitations on the EF Mass in the Philippines

For your information: Guidelines on the celebration of the EF Mass posted on the Archdiocese of Manila website (December 8, 2008) contain the following provisions:
2. This form of Mass is to be celebrated only at the Christ the King Chapel of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Manila once a month, but not on Sundays and Solemnities. Further requests from individuals or groups from the parishes of or who belong to the Archdiocese of Manila to celebrate this form of Mass is to be directed to join the monthly celebration at the Manila Cathedral....

6. ... It is like wise encouraged that those who will participate in this Mass undergo a catechetical orientation before the celebration.

7. The Archbishop of Manila has jurisdiction over this celebration and, therefore, can decide to limit or discontinue this monthly celebration anytime he judges that this is not consonance with the whole pastoral direction of the Local Church.
I wonder, are these limitations in line with the principles and articles of Summorum Pontificum?

Less Shouting, More Talking

Richard J. Mouw was my first philosophy professor. I had Philosophy 102 with him at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the Fall semester of 1970. That was almost 40 years ago. He was then a vibrant junior professor at the beginning of his career, and I was a young and callow fellow in my second year of college -- in the era of hippies, Mao jackets, SDS and Vietnam. Mouw was energetic, engaging and entertaining, and a very, very good teacher. I still remember vividly his discussion of Plato's Phaedo, peppered with humor and a good measure of contemporary illustrations.

So I was surprised to see that Mouw -- now President of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California -- had an article in Newsweek's "My Turn" column. Mouw was always a judicious, if amusing, stand-up guy: fair-minded and well-spoken in all his judgments. We knew where he stood on the issues, but he would always bend over backwards to avoid alienating the opposition. Good guy. His Newsweek article is no exception. Thought you might like it too. It's entitled "Less Shouting, More Talking" (Newsweek, January 31, 2009). Summary: "Yes, I voted for Prop 8. Yes, I oppose gay marriage. But that doesn't make me a religious fundamentalist."
On the morning of Nov. 4, I saw an angry confrontation between two groups at an intersection in my California town. Both sides were carrying signs: one set supporting Proposition 8—the ban on same-sex marriage—and the other opposing it. The two groups were angrily shouting and gesturing at each other as I passed by. That's when the tears welled up.

I voted for the ban. As an evangelical, I subscribe to the "traditional" definition of a marriage, and I do not want to see the definition changed.

Does that mean I want to impose my personal convictions on the broader population? No. I celebrate the fact that we live in a pluralistic society, with many different worldviews and lifestyles. I support the democratic process and believe that civil society is at its best when people with different perspectives engage in a mutually respectful dialogue. And that's why the tears welled up on Election Day morning. The angry sign wavers on opposite corners symbolized the way this whole disagreement over same-sex marriage has gone. Angry shouts. Shaking fists. It makes me sad.

This is something that happens on occasion in an intimate relationship. People who care deeply about each other start arguing about some touchy issue. As temperatures rise, so does the rhetoric. Mean-spirited things get said. The situation seems hopeless.

That is why I want to issue this plea to my fellow citizens on both sides of this divide over sexuality: Can we talk?

I ask this as someone who has been one of the angry ones—angry about things that have been said about people like me. I've been on talk shows where people phone in to call me a fascist or equate me with those who burned accused witches at the stake. One remark that hit especially close to home was made by the editor of this magazine. He wrote that anyone—anyone!—who tries to make a scriptural case against same-sex marriage is guilty of "the worst kind of fundamentalism."

That hurt. I have spent several decades of my life trying to spell out an evangelical alternative to "the worst kind of fundamentalism." My friends and I have argued that the Bible supports racial justice, gender equality, peacemaking and care for the environment—views that often draw the ire of the worst kind of fundamentalists. But none of that seems to matter to folks who don't like our views about same-sex relations. Because we also believe that the Bible frowns on sexual intimacy outside of marriage between a man and a woman, we are being relegated to the margins of the civil dialogue.

I refuse to go to the margins. As my fellow citizens in a pluralistic society, gays and lesbians have a right to ask me what my sincerely held convictions mean for how they pursue their way of lives.

While my views about sexuality are shaped by my religious convictions, I know that I cannot simply quote the Bible in arguing for public policy. Not every sin ought to be made illegal. But in this case, the issues go deep. For many of us, "normalizing" same-sex marriage comes down to deep concerns about the raising of our children and grandchildren. What will they be taught about sexual and family values in our schools? How will they be affected by the ways the entertainment media portray people with our kinds of views? And will we even be allowed to counter these influences in our homes and churches without being accused of "hate speech"?

And, fair or unfair, "slippery slope" concerns loom large. Are there limits to what we can be asked to tolerate when it concerns matters that violate our convictions? If we were to accept mutual consent and deeply felt convictions as a sufficient basis for allowing the legalization of same-sex relationships, what would keep us from extending marriage to a three-partner arrangement?

But I also want to hear from folks who worry about my views. What is it about people like me that frightens you so much? What would you need to hear from us that would reduce your anxiety? What is your vision of a flourishing pluralistic society? Where do people like me fit into that kind of society?

Maybe I am unrealistic in thinking we can have this national conversation. But the alternatives are frightening. Posing this question has worked at other times when people seemed hopelessly at odds. So let's try asking it now as a nation, and in a gentle tone: Can we talk?

Mouw is the president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.
Once, in the now defunct Reformed Journal, I remember Mouw relating how, in a Catholic Church in Europe, he witnessed a young woman and her skinhead boyfriend making rude remarks and gestures in front of a statue of the Blessed Mother. The woman then broke down and fell on her face weeping in front of the statue. Mouw, a good Calvinist, witnessing all of this, said that he couldn't help offering up a little prayer to the Blessed Mother herself. "Please pray for her." Something like that. Great guy.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Global warming dogma ensconced in federal, state gov't

Veteran weatherman and weather researcher John Coleman has been a vocal skeptic of global warming since 2007 when he publicly described it as "a fictional, manufactured crisis, and a total scam." He reportedly gave a speech before the San Diego Chamber of Commerce in 2008 blaming the "global warming scam" and environmentalist lobby, for rising gas and food prices, as well as "a threat to our economy and our civilization."

He recently published an article (recent news to me) entitled "The Amazing Story Behind the Global Warming Scam" (KUSI News, San Diego), in which he promotes his ideas that many scientists and politicians have been embroiled in what amounts to scam based on incomplete science and a political motive for a world government. Coleman traces the roots of the global warming movement to the claims of scientist Roger Revelle, reportedly "an early mentor of Al Gore," whose objective was seeking increased funding for the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
The key players are now all in place in Washington and in state governments across America to officially label carbon dioxide as a pollutant and enact laws that tax we citizens for our carbon footprints. Only two details stand in the way, the faltering economic times and a dramatic turn toward a colder climate. The last two bitter winters have led to a rise in public awareness that there is no runaway global warming. The public is now becoming skeptical of the claim that our carbon footprints from the use of fossil fuels is going to lead to climatic calamities.
And the irrepressible Al Gore was feted in Hollywood as a rock star for his lucrative 100-minute slide show that should have been called "A Convenient Fraud" and voted a Nobel Laureate? Over this truly exceptional woman?


I remember reading in British novels about Candlemas decades ago. Whatever else one may say about the British, they've preserved a lot of these traditional Catholic names in their culture. Last Monday, however, I had the pleasure of actually assisting at "Candle Mass" -- the Mass of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Candlemas Day. Here's what the church bulletin said:
Today's feast commemorates not only the obedience of the Blessed Virgin to the Mosaic Law in going to Jerusalem forty days after the birth of her Child and making the accustomed offerings, but also the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, and the meeting of the infant Jesus with the old man Simeon. The blessing and distribution of candles, to be carried lighted in procession, precedes the Mass today -- a symbolic presentation of the truth proclaimed in the Canticle of Simeon: Our Lord is the "Light for the revelation of the Gentiles."
I wish I had time to write out the entire Candlemas liturgy for you, with the Blessing of the Candles, Distribution, and Procession, as well as the Mass itself. It's really quite beautiful and much more involved than I ever expected. Gotta go.

Remember how he asked: "Pray for me ..."

In the midst of the storm of media criticism surrounding our Holy Father of late, I could not help recalling his still timely words from the Homily of his Inaugural Mass in St. Peter's Square, Sunday, April 25, 2005:
One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves. “Feed my sheep”, says Christ to Peter, and now, at this moment, he says it to me as well. Feeding means loving, and loving also means being ready to suffer. Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God’s truth, of God’s word, the nourishment of his presence, which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament.

My dear friends – at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more – in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another.[emphasis added]
The reason I have not addressed the Bishop Williamson affair is that I consider it a red herring. As Christopher A. Ferrara says, "Damian Thompson slams the nail on the head when writes
Make no mistake: far from being deeply offended by the lifting of the excommunications, many liberals are delighted that the entire traditionalist movement has been tainted by the supposed “rehabilitation” of a Holocaust denier. Other, less extreme, liberals are meanwhile quietly content to sit back and watch “the Ratzinger project” unravel. (, February 2, 2009)."
"Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good," says His Holiness. What he believes is "truly good" can be known in part by recalling the words of his Letter to the Bishops accompanying his Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, now in the full eclipse of media spin:
I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.[emphasis added]
And so, especially in this hour, let us honor the request of our Holy Father by remembering him in prayer.

Aquinas Institute in the Year of St. Paul

Our friend, Professor Peter Kwasniewski from Wyoming Catholic College, sends the following news:

We are very pleased to announce the launch of a new institute dedicated to the graduate-level study of the Catholic faith specifically through the writings of the Angelic Doctor: The Aquinas Institute for the Study of Sacred Doctrine, located in the beautiful town of Lander, Wyoming, along the Wind River Mountain Range. On our website you can find out all about us:

A capsule summary: last summer a number of professors ran a graduate program in which the student participants read and discussed nearly the whole of the Prima Pars, using bilingual texts. Everything went so well that we decided we would like to do this EVERY summer, and so we have founded an institute for the study of sacra doctrina according to the writings and method of St. Thomas -- in particular, by reading the Summa theologiae in a serious and sustained way. Typically our plan will be to read almost the entire Summa over the course of three intensive summer programs dedicated to the Summa’s three parts. (Students are not necessarily required or expected to attend all three, although naturally it would be ideal for them to do so.)

This summer, however, we are making an exception to that plan by putting on a one-time program, in honor of the Year of Saint Paul, dedicated to reading all of St. Paul’s Epistles with all of St. Thomas’s commentaries on them. While it is possible that Aquinas’s commentaries have been studied as a group this way in a monastery or other rarefied setting, certainly no college or university in living memory has offered such a program -- an opportunity to be steeped in the wisdom of St. Paul’s corpus as a whole, as systematically interpreted by the greatest Doctor of the Church. The Aquinas Institute hopes to make available to participants bilingual editions of the commentaries to be studied.

The program will run from May 25th to July 30th, 2009. The teachers will be Dr. John Mortensen, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, Dr. Jeremy Holmes, Fr. Sebastian Walshe, and Mr. Marco Emerson. The deadline for applications is March 31st. Information on tuition, housing, how to apply, etc., may be found at the above-mentioned website. Please help SPREAD THE WORD!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sudden death and trust

You may have heard about the sudden death of Amy Welborn's husband on February 3, 2009. No less remarkable is "The Last Column" (February 4, 2009), which one reader describes as "unbelievable ... the wind is still completely knocked out of me."

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Mr. Biden goes to church (with fanfare)

Hadley Arkes, "Joe Biden: The Rise of an Empty Man" (The Catholic Thing, February 3, 2009):
On the morning of the inauguration, according to news and eyewitness reports, the streets near Georgetown University were blocked by a fleet of limousines and police on motorcycles. It was for Joe Biden, attending Mass on campus at Dahlgren Chapel. It was a sign that would now mark the presence of Joseph Biden, the risen Joe Biden, ascending to a post of high honorifics. Bereft of both knowledge and wisdom, he will nevertheless stand in the high councils of state, with an entourage of cars flashing lights to herald his progress.

The cars assembled at their post conveyed a message, as inescapable as it was portentous: Here, in a chapel, affecting to be in communion with his Church, is a man who has trumpeted his rejection of the most central moral teachings of the Church. During the presidential campaign he offered, as one of the prime accomplishments in his political life, that he helped to defeat the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. With that stroke he managed to preserve, unimpaired, the right to kill an unborn child at every stage of its life. We have had a sense of what it means to “give scandal” or to misinstruct the faithful about the teachings of their own Church. But now it is done even more dramatically, with the presence of limousines to convey the point: that you can be a prime defender of the right to abortion at every stage and for any reason – nay, you can even exult in public for your achievements in securing that “right” – and still be a “good Catholic.”
[Hat tip to Prof. E.E.]

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Giving the Devil his due - Part II

Three years ago, in a post entitled "Giving the Devil his due" (Musings, February 13, 2006), I described my encounter with Catholic students and parents who were surprised to learn that the Catholic baptismal rite contains a minor exorcism -- one, in some cases, which they witnessed unwittingly (apparently) in the baptism of their own infant siblings or children. I went on to compare the baptismal rite as found in the simple, clear, and powerful language of the Roman Missal of 1962, in which there could be no mistaking what is happening: "I exorcise you, unclean spirit ... Come forth, depart from this servant (hand-maid) of God, N., for He commands you, accursed and damned spirit ..."

There is something quite bracing and invigorating about such robust, martial and (dare I say it?) manly language -- a slight redolence of the battlefield where Lt. Killgore declared: "I love the smell of napalm in the morning ... It smells like ... victory!" In this vein, I offer the following minor Leonine Exorcism as a modest contribution to efforts of the New Evangelization:

The Holy Father exhorts priests to say this prayer as often as possible, as a simple exorcism to curb the power of the devil and prevent him from doing harm. The faithful also may say it in their own name, for the same purpose, as any approved prayer. Its use is recommended whenever action of the devil is suspected, causing malice in men, violent temptations and even storms and various calamities. It could be used as a solemn exorcism (an official and public ceremony, in Latin) to expel the devil. It would then be said by a priest, in the name of the Church and only with the Bishop's permission.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel

Most glorious Prince of the Heavenly Armies, Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in "our battle against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places" (Ephes., VI, 12). Come to the assistance of men whom God has created to His likeness and whom He has redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil. Holy Church venerates thee as her guardian and protector; to thee, the Lord has entrusted the souls of the redeemed to be led into heaven. Pray therefore the God of Peace to crush Satan beneath our feet, that he may no longer retain men captive and do injury to the Church. Offer our prayers to the Most High, that without delay they may draw His mercy down upon us; take hold of "the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan," bind him and cast him into the bottomless pit "so that he may no longer seduce the nations" (Apoc. XX, 2).


In the Name of Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, strengthened by the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Blessed Michael the Archangel, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul and all the Saints, (and powerful in the holy authority of our ministry).1 we confidently undertake to repulse the attacks and deceits of the devil.
Psalm 67: God arises: His enemies are scattered and those who hate Him flee before Him.

As smoke is driven away, so are they driven; as wax melts before the fire, so the wicked perish at the presence of God.

V/. Behold the Cross of the Lord, flee bands of enemies.

R/. He has conquered, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the offspring of David.

V/. May thy mercy, Lord, descend upon us.

R/. As great as our hope in Thee.
[The crosses indicate a blessing to be given if a priest recites the Exorcism: if a lay person recites it, they indicate the Sign of the Cross to be made silently by that person.]

We drive you from us, whoever you may be, unclean spirits, all satanic powers, all infernal invaders, all wicked legions, assemblies and sects; in the Name and by the power of Our Lord Jesus Christ + may you be snatched away and driven from the Church of God and from the souls made to the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the Precious Blood of the Divine Lamb. + Most cunning serpent, you shall no more dare to deceive the human race, persecute the Church, torment God's elect and sift them as wheat. + The Most High God commands you. + He with whom, in your great insolence, you still claim to be equal; "He who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (I Tim., II, 4). God the Father commands you. + God the Son commands you. + God the Holy Ghost commands you. + Christ, God's Word made flesh, commands you; + He who to save our race outdone through your envy, "humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death" (Phil., II, 8); He who has built His Church on the firm rock and declared that the gates of hell shall not prevail against Her, because He will dwell with Her "all days even to the end of the world" (St. Mat., XXVIII, 20). The sacred Sign of the Cross commands you. + as does also the power of the mysteries of the Christian Faith. + The glorious Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, commands you; + She who by her humility and from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception, crushed your proud head. The father of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and of the other Apostles commands you. + The blood of the Martyrs and the pious intercession of all the Saints command you. +

Thus, cursed dragon, and you, diabolical legions, we adjure you by the living God, + by the true God, + by the holy God, + by the God "who so loved the world that He gave up His only Son, that every soul believing in Him might not perish but have life everlasting" (St. John, III); stop deceiving human creatures and pouring out to them the poison of eternal damnation; stop harming the Church and hindering her liberty. Begone, Satan, inventor and master of all deceit, enemy of man's salvation. Give place to Christ in whom you have found none of your works; give place to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church acquired by Christ at the price of His Blood. Stoop beneath the all-powerful Hand of God; tremble and flee when we invoke the Holy and terrible Name of Jesus, this Name which causes hell to tremble, this Name to which the Virtues, Powers and Dominations of heaven are humbly submissive, this Name which the Cherubim and Seraphim praise unceasingly repeating: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord, the God of Armies.
V/. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R/. And let my cry come unto Thee.
V/. May the Lord be with thee.
R/. And with thy spirit.
Let us pray. -- God of heaven, God of earth, God of Angels, God of Archangels, God of Patriarchs, God of Prophets, God of Apostles, God of Martyrs, God of Confessors, God of Virgins, God who has power to give life after death and rest after work, because there is no other God than Thee and there can be no other, for Thou art the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, of whose reign there shall be no end, we humbly prostrate ourselves before Thy glorious Majesty and we beseech Thee to deliver us by Thy power from all the tyranny of the infernal spirits, from their snares, their lies and their furious wickedness; deign, O Lord, to grant us Thy powerful protection and to keep us safe and sound. We beseech Thee through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

From the snares of the devil, deliver us, O Lord.

That Thy Church may serve Thee in peace and liberty, we beseech Thee to hear us.

That Thou may crush down all enemies of Thy Church, we beseech Thee to hear us.

(Holy water is sprinkled in the place where we may be.)

Imprimatur: +Henry, O.M.I.
Vicar Apostolic of James Bay -- August 15, 1967.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle; be our protection against the malice and snares of the Devil. May God restrain him, we humbly pray, and do though, O prince of the heavenly host, by the divine power cast into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus; have mercy on us (3 times)
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  1. Lay people omit this parenthesis. [back]