Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New York Times rejects Planned Parenthood material as "too graphic," "shocking"

This week, both the New York Times and Washington Post rejected a full page advertisement from American Life League as "too graphic" and "shocking" for their adult readers. What was too graphic? The full page color advertisement showed images from actual Planned Parenthood "sex-ed materials" used for children as young as 10 years of age. (Source - ALL, April 25, 2013) -- Advisory: Graphic, offensive content!!!

It seems that the "new and improved" Planned Parenthood has now moved beyond its slaughter house abortuaries and free condom handouts to selling sex toys, masturbatory techniques, fisting and other instructions for homosexual sex as a means of birth control.

Your tax dollars at work folks. $487.4 million! People who approve of this have a right to go to Hell, I suppose, if that's what they want. They don't have a right to take your children and the entire country with them. Defund Planned Parenthood now!

Perverse irony! Those who shriek the loudest at the outrage of pederast child-abuse sex scandals in the Church promote the very life-style of recreational and experimental sex play that leads straight to the perverted dispositions that yielded the sex scandals to begin with. Fie upon this perverse filth! If a dirty old man showed a booklet with these images to a couple of children in a park, he'd be arrested. But when Planned Parenthood shows them to kids in a classroom, it gets government money (i.e., your tax dollars).

What are same-sex "marriage" promoters really after?

From the site of the Illinois Family Institute earlier in April (via Fr. Z.) comes this (emphasis and comments from Fr. Z., but edited).
Homosexual Activist Admits True Purpose of Battle is to Destroy Marriage

By Micah Clark | 04.06.13

Even knowing that there are radicals in all movements, doesn’t lessen the startling admission recently by lesbian journalist Masha Gessen. On a radio show she actually admits that homosexual activists are lying about their radical political agenda. She says that they don’t want to access the institution of marriage; they want to radically redefine and eventually eliminate it.
Here is what she recently said on a radio interview:
“It’s a no-brainer that (homosexual activists) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. …(F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.
The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist. And I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life. That’s sort of not what I had in mind when I came out thirty years ago.
I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, [The MSM and entertainment industry, by their portrayal, wants you to think they occupy the moral high ground.] and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally… I met my new partner, and she had just had a baby, and that baby’s biological father is my brother, and my daughter’s biological father is a man who lives in Russia, and my adopted son also considers him his father. So the five parents break down into two groups of three… And really, I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality, and I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage.”
Frankly, the details of this last paragraph remind me of some of the convoluted relationships in Andy Warhol's experimental film fantasies or of the Marquis de Sade's La philosophie dans le boudoir. Yesterdays vices, today's virtues.

Source: "Why get married when you could be happy?" (RN Life Matters, June 11, 2012).

Of course, human life begins at conception... But that's no longer the question

The question now is: When is it expedient to kill human beings?

"Be not afraid ... I have overcome the world." (John 14:7, 16:33)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Obama to largest abortion provider: "God bless you!" (Which god? Chemosh? Moloch? Baal?)

What does it mean when a nation's president says on gun control, "If there's a step we can take to save even one child (emphasis added), we should take that step," and then turns around and asks God to "bless" the largest abortion provider in that nation, a nation in which upwards of 4000 unborn Americans are killed each day? Is there a rationale here that would render these statements compatible, let alone intelligible? What "God" is being asked to bless the altars of these abortuaries?

We Americans consider ourselves so urbane, so sophisticated, so far beyond the 'ignorance' and 'parochialism' of our forebears; but the god of recreational sex we worship in the name of Pelvic Freedom continues to demand human sacrifice today. The fact that those sacrifices are not made publicly on high altars in the public square but privately in "women's clinics," that we substitute terms like "women's healthcare" for "killing babies," and that we ignore or supress the data about the psychological and spiritual toll abortions take on the mothers who have them, their families and communities and the social fabric of our nation, allows us to live with the illusion that we are beyond all such primitive barbarism. But Chemosh, Moloch, and Baal continue to demand human blood, and we continue to offer it.

Where is the hope of national repentance, renewal and the milk of human kindness and high regard for human life when our president is asking "God" to bless our immolation of whole generations of our unborn children?

Holy See's spokesman Fr. Lombardi now defending recognition of same-sex unions?

This is getting a bit old, as reported today:
Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, spokesman of the Holy See, to journalists assembled at the headquarters of the Association of the Foreign Press in Rome, on April 24:
"[I]t is a good thing for the child to know that he has a father and a mother"; [it must be] "made clear that matrimony between a man and a woman is a specific and fundamental institution in the history of mankind. This does not prevent that other forms of union between two persons may be recognized" (emphasis added).
We used to hear, "Rome has spoken, the case is closed"; and I used to think it was only groups like the ELCA Lutherans affiliated with my erstwhile teaching post for whom incessant ambiguities and vagueness was the hermeneutical key. Now it seems every position trotted out must die the death of 1000 qualifications, until the pew peasants don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of knowing where the Church stands.

The best account of women and the priesthood I have ever seen


Here is the audio form of an article by Peter Kreeft I remember reading in Crisis Magazine probably more than two decades ago. I thought it the best concise and lucid accessible account of why the Church ordains only men when I first read it, and I was glad to come across this audio form of the piece today.

I see that the print form of the piece is still available, now in booklet form with a companion piece by Alice von Hildebrand, entitled Women and the priesthood(Franciscan University Press, 1994), though no longer online, so far as I can tell.

Planned Parenthood's Poster Girl

Wake up, Know-Nothings, and pull your heads out of the sand! It's not a dirty little secret that the policies of "liberals" are anything but liberal; and this despite their often rosiest of intentions!

It's no accident that the celebrated author, Flannery O'Connor, once wrote: "In the absence of faith, we govern by tenderness. And tenderness leads to the gas chamber."

[Hat tip to Nina Bryhn]

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jim Morrison & the Doors: Heidegger's stepchildren on heroin

Why Heidegger's stepchildren? The case might be made that Morrison identified himself much more closely with Nietzsche's Dionysos; and that may well be. But I have always also heard echoes of Heidegger (who was also captivated by Nietzsche) in some of Morrison's pieces, like this one. Just listen to the lyrics.

"Riders on the storm." In his June 1933 speech to the Student Association at the university of Heidelberg, Heidegger as the Nazi rector, who regularly ended his speeches of the period with "Heil Hitler," quoted Plato (Republic 497d9) near the end of his speech, assimilating his words to the spirit of National Socialism, with echoes of 18th-century Sturm und drang: "All that is great stands in the storm." This was a romantic notion associated in then contemporary German thinking with the mythos of the Germanic spirit and ancient myths of Wotan and Thor. But here in Morrison, it's just the romance, dark with mystery: Yeah, baby. Maybe Charlie don't surf, but we're gonna ride this hurricane of a storm!

"Into this world we're thrown." Heidegger regularly used the expression "thrown" or "thrownness" (Geworfenheit) to describe Dasein's condition of Being-in-the-World. In Morrison, too, this notion is associated with the raw condition of one's brute existence in the world. The common Existentialist formula was "Existence precedes essence," in the sense that we find ourselves in the world without any fixed antecedent nature or sense of personal identity. The only point, if ever, that one could be described as having a definable nature is after one is dead and gone. Becoming is ended. One's essence becomes fixed in death.

There is a similar obsession with death between the two, as well, which one finds in Heidegger's treatment of Being-toward-death, which he develops famously in connection with an exegesis of Tolstoi's short story, The Death of Ivan Ilyich; as well as throughout Morrison's musical corpus. One sees it briefly here in the "killer on the road" and the reference that "sweet memory will die" if you "give this man a ride," etc.; but elsewhere it appears much more clearly in his repeated declaration "No one here gets out alive," which was both a line in his hit, Five to One, as well as a similarly worded title of his biography, No One Gets Out Alive. In fact, there's death wish written all over many of his lyrics, notably in When the Music's Over: "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection ... Before I sink into the big sleep ... Save us! Jesus! ... When the music's over, turn out the light." We could also reference here the significance of "music" for Dionysus, developed particularly in Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music.

In any case, Morrison was a pitifully confused spiritual wreck of a man. Just like the far more 'respectable' Heidegger.


... in quotes, because the word is notoriously ambiguous. It is best broken down into component theses, as Alvin Plantinga once did in an essay (e.g. ancient earth thesis, common ancestry thesis, naturalistic origins thesis, etc., some of which there is evidence for, and others for which there is none whatsoever). But here this is beside the point, since nearly everyone seems to think of "it" as some sort of settled simplicity that any credible intellectual worth his salt must simply assume as a matter of course to be taken seriously (witness Ben Stein's well-known documentary).

As such, "it" has become a matter that just won't go away. A recent article by Carol Glatz, "Human evolution: Science, faith explore the mysterious emergence of man" (Catholic News Service, April 25, 2013), reports that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences recently brought together world-renown scientific experts, evolutionary biologists, paleoanthropologists, archaeologists, neuroscientists, theologians and philosophers to discuss the major physical and cultural changes that occurred during mankind's evolution. The article states:
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Evolutionary science is still grappling with understanding how the human species, with its unique capacities for language, culture, abstract reasoning and spirituality, may have emerged from a pre-ape ancestor.
Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, declared that theology and philosophy "must not engage in a losing battle to establish the facts of nature that constitute the very scope of science"; rather, they "should ask themselves how they can find a meeting point with and become enriched by the naturalist viewpoint of science, starting from the assumption that the human being is already a speaking, questioning being," he added.

The CNS article continues:
How that speaking, questioning being emerged from a 5 million-year-long lineage of other primates is still a matter of much debate.
"It is?" responds Rorate Caeli, in "The inerrant word of God does not 'evolve'" (April, 28, 2013), adding: "Sadly, even modern Churchmen have succumbed to the false religion -- and poor science -- of evolution. I say modern Churchmen, as the Church doctors never sat around wondering if their ancestors -- Adam and Eve -- lived in trees and ate bananas."

Rorate interestingly offers two links, adding: "Que this traditional, learned priest -- who is also a trained scientist. Give them a listen, and discuss:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Come, sweet death

If you are dealing, like one of our readers, with a parent struggling with Alzheimers or watching the effects of old age on others; if you have prayed for the deliverance for a loved one from the final agony, praying "Come, Sweet Death"; if you think, as you grow older, that the Church needs to step up to the plate on teaching about The Four Last Things,as on all its teachings; if you've had any thoughts such as these, you may want to read Death and Afterlife: A Theological Introduction, a thoughtful and substantial theological reflection by a Catholic author on death and the world to come.

What follows is a review of the book Graeme Hunter, entitled "THE END IS CLEAR" (Touchstone magazine):
Diane, a mother in her mid-forties, is dying of leukemia, leaving behind her husband and two teenage boys. The stuff of domestic tragedy. You can easily imagine distraught relatives, and nagging questions that have no reply.

However, in Terence Nichols's fine book, Death and Afterlife, Diane's death figures as a luminous episode, which left her loved ones with "an inexplicable sense of peace and joy." Her story serves as a frame for Nichols's book, not only to introduce the wider themes of death and what comes after, but also to prepare the reader to consider the forgotten art of "dying well," the master theme towards which the story builds.

It was wise to defer that unfamiliar theme to the end of the book. Modern people need all the help they can get to grasp an idea so out of keeping with the age. A world as materialistic, scientistic, and consumerist as ours inclines by its nature to impulsive self-absorption, and is little given to introspection about death or the inscrutable reality behind death's door. Instinctively the modern mind thrusts aside such meditations as morbid and medieval. In their place we put the celebration of life. Think of the new style of obituary, in which we are promised a celebration of the loved one's life but seldom a funeral, much less a Service or Mass of Christian Burial. Lacking the concepts to deal intelligently with death, we think it better to avert our gaze.

A Better Approach

Nichols's engaging book offers readers something better. It presents the Christian Church's considered wisdom about death and the afterlife in a manner that is both informed and practical. It addresses the difficulty of integrating Christian belief on these matters with modern presuppositions, and only then turns to offering practical ways of making the contemplation of mortality, resurrection, and eternal life our means of dying well.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge ..."

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children." (Hosea 4:6)

THE LUKEWARM (an indictment):

One reason for the lukewarmness, of course, is lack of courage to stand against the tide of opposition to Catholic truth. It's a natural inclination to want to be liked by others. What happens when one stands for truth, even by modestly proposing that those who support same-sex relationships should not receive communion? One may expect to get SLAMMED by the hateful opposition, as the Archbishop of Detroit was recently slammed by Gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson over this issue (see Deacon Greg Kandra's post, The Deacon's Bench, April 24, 2013). Let's face it. It can't be easy being a priest, much less a bishop.

I was talking with a colleague recently about Sunday homilies. What priests must constantly remind themselves of, he was saying, is that we don't go to Mass in order to listen to them voice their personal opinions or share their experiences. (How dull that could become. They're priests, for crying out loud, not stand up comics; and they should not confuse their roles any more than biological fathers should waste their time trying to persuade their kids that they're 'hip', which they never are.)

No, we go to hear the proclamation of God's Word. What does this mean, in practice? It means that the priest must "forget himself," as it were, in the moment of the homily and remember his role in persona Christi: the proclamation he gives is Christ's, not his own. This does not mean dwelling on a theology of condemnation, though he must not shy from speaking the judgment of God where it is required. It means he must become the voice of Christ calling His sheep to follow Him -- to green pastures, yes, but also in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake, as the Psalmist says (Ps 23). In other words, he must "man-up" and take on the persona Christi, become Christ to others; and that is no small task!

Update: Fr. Z, "WaPo: Homosexual Episcopal bishop dictates to Catholic what we should believe" (WDTPRS, April 29, 2013).

The totalitarian repressiveness of Vatican II's "true reform" as advanced by Massimo Faggioli

A very good review I missed from last November: Dom Alcuin Reid's review of Massimo Faggioli's True Reform: Liturgy and Ecclesiology in Sacrosanctum Concilium(Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012), posted by Shawn Tribe at New Liturgical Movement (November 13, 2012):

In December 1963, following the promulgation the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy at the close of the second session of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI consulted the Council’s Liturgical Commission on how to commence the Constitution’s implementation. He also consulted the Archbishop of Bologna, Giacomo Cardinal Lercaro. Lercaro asked Father Annibale Bugnini, CM, to draft a plan. The following January 3rd Bugnini was nominated Secretary of the Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia ― a body intentionally distinct from the Sacred Congregation for Rites ― and set to work on its implementation.

What ensued is not the direct concern of this book, however what is of importance here is that Paul VI wasted no time in commencing the liturgical reform. Neither he nor those to whom he gave responsibility for the work perceived the need to wait until the conclusion of the Council (December 1965) before implementing Sacrosanctum Concilium. Indeed, by then the Consilium had, as Archbishop Piero Marini relates (A Challenging Reform, Liturgical Press 2007, chapters 4 & 5), wrestled control of the reform from the Congregation for Rites and was well underway with it.

These realities are of importance when considering True Reform: Liturgy and Ecclesiology in ‘Sacrosanctum Concilium’ because of Massimo Faggioli’s fundamental question: “How much of Sacrosanctum Concilium is present in Vatican II, and how much of Vatican II is present in the first constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium?” (3)

This question bears re-reading, for historically, the second part of it at least, makes little sense. Neither Paul VI, Lercaro, Bugnini nor their collaborators could have articulated this question as they set about the work of liturgical reform. What Faggioli means by “Vatican II” was not a distinguishable entity at that time as perhaps it became afterwards. And whilst contemporary theological trends and other orientations certainly influenced the persons involved, as well as the reform itself, one will search in vain amongst the papers of the Consilium to find an agenda paper calling its members to sit down to consider “How much of Vatican II is present in the proposed new liturgical rites?” Their constant reference point was the Constitution itself―or at least it should have been―as the name "Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia" makes perfectly clear, not any overarching reality called “Vatican II” or associated “spirit.”

It is evident that True Reform is not a book dealing with liturgical history. Rather it is an argument for a particular hermeneutic for interpreting Vatican II. Faggioli’s other recent work Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning (Paulist Press 2012), demonstrates that his stance owes much to the ‘Bologna school’ as well as to Georgetown’s John W. O’Malley, SJ’s, What Happened at Vatican II (Harvard University Press, 2008). This hermeneutic insists that something happened at Vatican II and that this “something” is greater than the texts approved by the Council. Indeed, they argue, it is nothing less than constituent for the post-conciliar Church, “the Church of Vatican II.” Vatican II is, therefore, more an event (specifically a “language event” for O’Malley), than a series of documents calling for pastoral reforms. It is the epoch-making ressourcement of the Church and the Church’s rapprochement in respect of herself and towards the world. Furthermore, this “something,” this event―this spirit―is held to be the only legitimate starting point for interpreting the Council’s constitutions and decrees, and thus furnishes a hyper-hermeneutic for assessing the probity or otherwise of developments in the life of the Church then and now.

For this school of interpretation there is a very definite ‘before’ and ‘after’ the Council. Radical change, discontinuity and rupture with the ‘pre-conciliar Church’ is not a problem―indeed it is celebrated. Concern for continuity in reform is not present. These scholars oppose the view of Pope Benedict XVI (articulated in his address of 22 December 2005), that the correct way to interpret Vatican II is through “the ‘hermeneutic of reform,’ of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us.” Through “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” the Council is “basically misunderstood,” the Holy Father argues, and “in a word, it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit.”

It should be clear from the Pope’s words that this is no trifling academic disagreement, as the subtitle of Faggioli’s earlier book, “the Battle for Meaning,” underlines.

This has clear implications in respect of the Sacred Liturgy, particularly when recent years have heard talk of a reform of the post-conciliar reform and more lately of a “mutual enrichment” between the older and newer forms of the Roman rite, as well as witnessing the unfettering of the pre-conciliar liturgy.

Faggioli is not a liturgist and is not directly concerned with the “technical outcomes” (the ritual changes) of the liturgical reform. He is a theologian of the “event” of Vatican II, and as the subtitle of this book indicates, he is directly concerned with the ecclesiology of the Council and with the ecclesiology grounding any form of liturgy. He argues that “rejecting the theological core of the liturgical reform is nothing less than rejecting the theology of Vatican II and the chance to communicate the Gospel in an understandable way in our time and age.” (156-7) Furthermore, he asserts, “the liturgy of Vatican II is constitutionally necessary for the theological survival of Vatican II. Undoing the liturgical reform of Vatican II leads to dismantling the Church of Vatican II. This is why it is necessary to understand the deep connections between the liturgical reform and theology of Vatican II in its entirety.” (158) [If you can imagine charismatic Catholics like Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa and Evangelical Catholics like George Weigel being totally on board with this language, what does that tell you? - PP]

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Looming threat to home schoolers in Germany and the U.S.

"Yesterday, surrounded by friends and supporters, the Romeike family sat silent in the courtroom before the three-judge panel that will decide whether or not the family can remain in the United States to homeschool their children. The six wooden benches in the small courtroom quickly filled up with homeschooling families—some with children finishing their schoolwork for the day—and several more stood in the back during the 38-minute hearing.

"... Farris quoted published decisions from German courts, which explained that the ban on homeschooling exists to prevent the development and spread of religious or philosophically-motivated “parallel societies,” and which concluded that it was dangerous for a child to be taught by their mother." (Emphasis added by Rorate Caeli; cf. source.)


British royals married to Catholics no longer need to raise their children Catholic?

"Catholic members of royal couples won't have to raise kids Catholics" (CNS, April 23, 2013):
LONDON (CNS) -- Church leaders have told the British government that members of the royal family who marry Catholics under recently passed legislation will not be obliged to bring up their children in the Catholic faith.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness, speaking on behalf of the government, said he had been assured personally by Msgr. Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, that the canonical requirement of Catholics to raise their children in the faith was not always binding.

"I have the specific consent of Msgr. Stock to say that he was speaking on behalf of Archbishop (Vincent) Nichols (of Westminster) as president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and can inform the House that the view taken by the Catholic Church in England and Wales is that, in the instance of mixed marriages, the approach of the Catholic Church is pastoral," he said.
I would love to have an infallible definition of the word, "pastoral"! Wouldn't you?

Liberal Evangelical Ron Sider resigns from AARP

Mark Tooley's article (American Spectator, February 22, 2013) reports:
Unlike many figures of the Evangelical and Religious Left, Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA) has sustained an integrity that many conservatives have grudgingly admired. Unlike many of his activist cohorts, he has not prevaricated on Christian teachings about sex, marriage, or abortion. And unlike many of his fellow religionists on the left, Sider has maintained a rigorous concern for the global persecution of Christians when others prefer silence over criticism of Islamist or communist regimes.

Now Sider, as he nears retirement from 40 years as ESA founder and head, has again distinguished himself by dissenting from the Religious Left on the untouchable sacredness of the federal welfare and entitlement state. Sider has very publicly resigned from the Association of Retired People (AARP) to protest its refusal to compromise on entitlement reform.

Calling AARP “selfish and guilty of intergenerational injustice,” Sider chides the self-professed lobby for seniors over its adamant opposition to any reform of Social Security and Medicare. He notes that the “federal government spends about $4 on every senior over 65 and only $1 on every child under 18.” And he notes that the 22 percent poverty rate for children percent is much higher than the 9.7 percent rate for seniors.

Machine-scored student ESSAYS???!!!

Well, of course you already knew that "higher education" in this country was in trouble; but here's a bit more evidence of the fact: Harvard, M.I.T., and University of California, Berkeley, are now on board with EdX ESSAY-grading software, which offers professors a break from the tedium of grading students essay exams and term papers.

John Markoff's "Essay-Grading Software Offers Professors a Break" New York Times, April 4, 2013) suggests:
Imagine taking a college exam, and, instead of handing in a blue book and getting a grade from a professor a few weeks later, clicking the “send” button when you are done and receiving a grade back instantly, your essay scored by a software program.
While proponents cite the advantages of "instant feedback," skeptics are rightly skeptical.

A group calling itself "Professionals Against Machine Scoring of Student Essays in High-Stakes Assessment," which has collected nearly 2,000 signatures, including some from luminaries like Noam Chomsky, states:
Let’s face the realities of automatic essay scoring ... Computers cannot ‘read.’ They cannot measure the essentials of effective written communication: accuracy, reasoning, adequacy of evidence, good sense, ethical stance, convincing argument, meaningful organization, clarity, and veracity, among others.
Needless to say, EdX expects its software to be adopted widely by schools and universities, and this fall, it will add classes from Wellesley, Georgetown and the University of Texas. The future of sales looks bright!

[Hat tip to SHMS colleagues]

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

French gov't overrides will of the people, legalizes same-sex 'marriage'

"French lawmakers approve same-sex marriage bill" (CNN, April 23, 2013)

Opposition protests were massive and sustained

"Culture of Death"? What an unpleasant thing to say! No manners?

[Hat tip to Drudge Report]

Cdl Dolan awards St. Elizibeth Ann Seton Medal to WHOM?!

Christine Niles, "Cdl Dolan awards pro-abort Anna Maria Chavez the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Medal" (FB, April 23, 2013) -- with these supporting links:So sorry to see this.

Fr. George Rutler "packing a punch" (Dartmouth Alumni Magazine)

James Panero, "Father Figure" (Supreme Fiction, March/April, 2012):
Every weekend after saying Mass, Father George William Rutler steps out of the Church of Our Saviour and walks across Manhattan’s Park Avenue South to spar for three rounds with a 24-year-old former seminarian. His ring is a repurposed squash court inside the Union League Club, where he is a member. “My face is my fortune,” he jokes, so he boxes with a sparring mask. Still, “three three-minute rounds are more taxing than running seven miles. It’s very cerebral, really intellectual,” he says. “It’s great. You get to punch people—and the exigencies of my profession normally prevent me from punching people. It gives me an excuse, but it doesn’t let me punch the people I would like to. Our Lord said we have to turn the other cheek. That was before the Marquess of Queensberry. I’m quite certain St. Paul was a boxer.”

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing a double take, looking up a reference or two and reviewing your mental notes after a conversation with Father Rutler. He speaks face to face as effortlessly as he moves in the ring, with a delivery that both disarms and knocks you out. You might be looking up the footnote two comments back—John Douglas, the 9th Marquess of Queensberry, codified the rules of modern boxing—while Rutler has already moved on to his next combination.

Topics of discussion might include the depredations of International Style architecture, the teachings of the convert John Henry Newman or a recitation of “Men of Dartmouth” translated into Latin with full refrains. Dartmouth luminaries are never far from thought: the poets Richard Eberhart ’26 and Robert Frost, class of 1896; the Greek scholar Richmond Lattimore ’26; the appropriately named man of mystery James Risk ’37; the Catholic Dartmouth College chaplain “Father Bill” Nolan; and Bruce Nickerson ’64, a BMOC from Rutler’s undergraduate days killed in his prime, flying a combat mission over Vietnam. Each of these figures appears in Cloud of Witnesses, Rutler’s latest collection of essays with the simple subtitle, Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive. (It is his seventh book.)

“You get this constant awareness of history,” says Dartmouth trustee Peter Robinson ’79, who first met Rutler while working as a speechwriter in the Reagan administration. “I can recall being with him in a steam room in the Union League Club and within 30 seconds he was quoting Cato in Latin to the raised eyebrows of everyone else in the steam room. Cato is as completely alive to Father Rutler as Barack Obama—and certainly more respectable.” The same goes for Dartmouth, says Robinson. “To him Dartmouth doesn’t trail off into sepia tones. The whole history and life of the College, it’s all in vivid color.”

Monday, April 22, 2013

What happened to the GOOD news?!

Should I apologize to my readers for relating so much that's negative? It's a bit overwhelming at times, I admit. Sometimes it would be nice bury one's head in the sand and just wish the problems would all go away.

I'm reminded of our local town newspaper in NC where I taught for many years. To combat the constant barrage of negative news, the paper always featured on its front page a large photograph of something benign and heart-warming, like a child on a playground swinging, or a grandmother leading her grand-daughter by the hand. A nice thought.

Time is short, however, and I do not think that even if I wanted to I could compete with the Care Bears and their "Care Alot Contests," or with those religious voices who speak always and everywhere of our time as the "new springtime" of this or that, or of a new and improved "Evangelical Catholicism," as professional clerics pursue "business as usual," and many in Europe and the West have stopped pretending that the Catholic Church even exists in their countries.

Retrospectively, then, in view of my own pilgrimage over the last two decades as a Catholic, I view my approach to the headlines of today as a chastened (and, hopefully, charitable) realism.

Australia: From heroic sacrifice to promoting gay sin out of 'compassion'

The story of Catholicism's beginnings in Australia is grim and heroic. The current state of affairs is a microcosm of much that is wrong in contemporary Catholicism and pushes deluded masses down the greased skids toward Hell. A depressing tale HERE by Michael Voris, reporting from Australia.

Anti-bullying bill is "Orwellian nightmare," to "usurp parental rights," create "re-education camps"

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has come out strongly against proposed anti-bullying legislation, linking it to the push to legalize same-sex marriage, Fr. Z. reports, "Archbp. Nienstedt on anti-bullying bill, linked to same-sex 'marriage'” (WDTPRS, April 22, 2013).

Read the gory details in Jason Adkins, "Same-sex 'marriage' is just the beginning" (TheCatholicSpirit.com, Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis, April 22, 2013).

Former papal MC comes out for same-sex unions, trashes Benedict XVI’s pontificate

... as Fr. Z. reports HERE (WDTPRS, April 22, 2013).

And so the post-Benedictine onslaught begins ...

As reported by Vatican Insider, Archbp. Piero Marini, head of the office that organizes Eucharist Congresses, while speaking on Costa Rica recently, declared:
It is necessary to recognize the union of persons of the same sex, because there are many couples that suffer because their civil rights aren’t recognized. What can’t be recognized is that this union is equivalent to marriage.
Commenting on Pope Francis, he said:
It’s a breath of fresh air; it’s opening a window onto springtime and onto hope. We had been breathing the waters of a swamp and it had a bad smell. We’d been in a church afraid of everything, with problems such as Vatileaks and the paedophilia scandals. With Francis we’re talking about positive things. [And] there’s a different air of freedom, a church that’s closer to the poor and less problematic.
Rorate Caeli takes this to be "a public trashing of Benedict XVI." Read more here >>

"We, as a nation, need to start racially profiling liberal writers"

Jim Goad, "Let’s Hope the Next Bomber is a Liberal Journalist" (Taki's Magazine, April 22, 1013), excerpts [advisory: strong language in the non-excerpted portions]:
... Those on the “right” tended to suspect Muslims, and those on the “left” were fairly wetting themselves with gleeful anticipation that it was one of those gun-toting, tax-resisting, rural Angry White Males that has served as their cultural “other” and chief movie villain for generations now.

Since I’m a white male and not a Muslim, I don’t quite cotton to such rank defamation and stereotyping.

Michael Moore stopped gnawing on his Flintstones-sized rack of barbecued ribs long enough to note that being white would help you escape scrutiny as a bombing suspect. Moore would know something about being white, seeing as he owns a sprawling mansion in an area that is estimated to be 98% white and has no black residents.

Racial witch-hunter Tim Wise, who looks like the bastard love child of an albino beaver and Dr. Evil, allegedly lives in an area that is 97% white and 0% black; if that’s true, then he, too, ought to know a little about the “white privilege” against which he’s constantly railing.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Conservative" cardinal still soft on same-sex relationships

Cardinal Schönborn, whose Vienna Cathedral in 2006 saw the blessing of unmarried couples -- including homosexual partners -- on Valentine’s day, and who last year (2012) opened a parish council to one living in a public homosexual partnership, is again on the news regarding his call on the Church to "give more consideration to the quality" of homosexual relationships (Rorate Caeli, April 20, 2013).

The fruit of interfaith dialogue: 'COEXIST' vs. CHRIST?

Marshall Taylor, "Islam & Being Ecumenically Correct: How It's Driven One Ex-Muslim to Leave the Catholic Church" (Canterbury Tales, March 26, 2013):

Mr. Magdi Cristiano Allam Receiving Communion after Baptism
He has now left the Catholic Church...

I was really impressed a few years back when Pope Benedict baptized a Muslim man. His name is Magdi Cristiano Allam. I thought it was great that the Pope himself would baptize such a convert. It symbolized that Christ is truly the King of Kings and Lord of the whole earth.

Well, Mr. Allam just announced that he is leaving the Catholic Church! That's it. He's done. He's out.


Magdi Cristiano Allam is leaving the Catholic Church because he thinks the Catholic Church has become soft on Islam. And to be honest, I agree with his assessment of the Vatican's "soft-theology" of Islam.

The new "soft theology" of contemporary Catholic dialogue is not historic, biblical, traditional, Thomistic, etc. We all see it for what it is. The Holy See's increasingly tolerant stance toward Islam is an attempt to appease the future rulers of Europe: Muslims. This approach is not the way of Saint Pius V, to be sure. Google "Battle of Lepanto" for details.

Here is Mr. Allam in his own words:
"The thing that drove me away from the Church more than any other factor was religious relativism, in particular the legitimisation of Islam as a true religion," he said. Mr Allam said Islam was "an intrinsically violent ideology" that had to be courageously opposed as "incompatible with our civilisation and fundamental human rights". "I am more convinced than ever that Europe will end up being subjugated to Islam just like what happened beginning in the seventh century on the other side of the Mediterranean," he warned. {Quote from the Tablet}
I don't agree with Mr. Allam for leaving the one true Church of Jesus Christ. I don't celebrate it or condone it. The apostasy of Mr Allam serves the dead canary in the mine.

We will not convert Muslims to our Lord Jesus Christ if we keep preaching our "ecumenically correct" (EC) public service announcements. Islam is NOT a religion of Abraham. It's not. It's an aberration. Saint John Damascene (Doctor of the Catholic Church) said that Islam is a heresy at best. If Abraham were alive today, he would stand up and curse Islam. It's a religion of the sword. Always has been. Always will be. Any religion that promises sex with virgins as its highest reward is clearly a religion created by man. Mohammedanism does not have a divine origin. Mohammedanism leads people away from Jesus Christ.

"But Dr. Marshall. You don't really understand. I mean have you ever really read the Quran?" Yes, I have the full audible version of the Quran on my iPhone and I listen to it. I read it. I study it. It's bad news.

Think about it this way. The Catholic Church, once upon a time, converted the nations of Europe. These converts had previously practiced forms of paganism and animism.

What if the Pope and bishops back then began glad-handing with the ecumenical heads of the religions they were supposed to be baptizing? What if Pope Gregory the Great were celebrating diversity with the priests of Thor and priestesses of the Frigga? Do you know how discouraging that would be for these new converts among the freshly baptized German tribes?!

I'm going to be transparent with you. It absolutely destroys me whenever I see photos of the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury posing for pictures. Many former Anglican priests made enormous sacrifices to enter into communion with the Pope. I gave up my life and vocation as an Anglican priest to be in communion with the Pope. To see the Pope smiling and celebrating with our "old boss" is very discouraging.

My opinion is that the ecumenism of the last 40 years does more harm than good - when it comes to people who are actually becoming Catholic. Magdi Cristiano Allam is Exhibit A. Here is a man who was baptized by the Pope himself. Now he is gone. How sad.

Now it's your turn. We can agree that there is no excuse to leave the Church, but is the Catholic Church hurting her children who are former Muslim children by being ecumenically correct and overly tolerant? Is this about Christ or COEXIST? Please leave a comment.

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Friday, April 19, 2013

"How your child will be kidnapped"

Matt Emerson writes, in a post by this title (The Ignatian Educator, April 14, 2013):
When I was child, at the time I was old enough to wait at a bus stop or walk to a friend’s house, my parents taught my brother and me about “stranger danger,” about the creepy and ill-fitting figure who lingers or leers. There are wicked people, said my parents, and they will try to hurt you. If an unrecognized adult stops his car near you, remain alert. If he asks questions, don’t engage. If he comes after you, yell. And run.

The evil to be avoided was kidnapping, a word which, even as a child, carried terrifying associations, much the way hearing “9/11” chills me now. Of course, kidnapping of the kind my parents warned about remains a worry, but that is not the sole version of this nightmare. As we know from television shows like Dateline NBC’s “To catch a predator,” it is now possible to speak of virtual kidnappings, Internet-based abductions that can result in severe harm.

But there is one kind of virtual kidnapping that hasn’t gained much attention. It doesn’t involve any direct human contact; it doesn’t involve any dramatic arrest captured on camera. It’s not physical theft; it is soul theft. It is the trauma to a child’s psychology, self-image and worldview that comes from browsing the Internet. It is the result of roaming online unsupervised, without warnings about whom to run from or avoid.
[Hat tip to J.M.]

Gone to seed: No child left behind

Funny, but caution! Advisory: foul language!

[Hat tip to S.F.]

NPR has no particular bias. Listen to it all the time.

Just listen to NPR's Dina Temple-Raston on the Boston Marathon bombings:

Yeah ... Right ...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mortimer Adler on the disorderedness of romantic love

I'm sure there is someone out there who will call me, at the very least, a killjoy, and maybe worse; but I have had this unresolved question in the back of my mind for some years. The question is this: What exactly is "romantic love"? It's not that I haven't experienced the emotional high involved in the phenomenon. I still remember this little Japanese girl in kindergarten in Hokkaido where we lived another lifetime ago. I'm utterly certain it was what people call "true (romantic) love." Then on a school field trip, we were all shown how to make origami objects out of bamboo leaves, and I made an origami canoo, which I gave to the love of my life, and she flung it over her shoulder with a look of utter disdain; and I've never been the same since.

No, the question is not one of experience, but of conceptual classification; which may, in fact, help people to know how to regard and treat the experience. The puzzle deepened when I finished reading C.S. Lewis's The Four Loves, decades ago, which analyzed brilliantly the differences between four classical types of love distinguished by the Greek philosophers:
  1. Agape (charity), which is a self-giving love animated by concern for the beloved (this is the word used in the New Testament for Jesus Christ's love for us);
  2. Eros (sex), which Lewis describes as the "face-to-face" kind of love that two people have for one another when they desire one another (this is primarily a self-serving kind of love, in that I desire the other for my own sake, pleasure, fulfillment, etc.);
  3. Philia (friendship), which Lewis calls the "shoulder-to-shoulder" kind of love that two people have for one another who discover that they have a common interest; but the Greek word for "philosophy" (love [philos] of wisdom [sophia]) shows that this kind of love can be for other things than persons, as when a person says "I love chemistry," perhaps;
  4. Storge (affection), which Lewis calls a very biological love, in that it involves the kind of love between a parent and child, with the typical caresses and hugs that accompany it (and I suppose it extends to pets as well).
But my question, of course, was this: Where does "romantic love" fit in this typology? In some ways it seemed like it edged close to "Eros," but that didn't seem quite right either; because "romantic love" is something far more "spiritual" than mere erotic attraction.

Well, I just happened across this short, short interview with Mortimer J. Adler (whose works I greatly admire), and I think he has provided for me the beginning of a resolution. Here is the interview [Be sure to click on the "Read more" link to read the whole thing -- it's short):
On Romantic Love

A Conversation Between Max Weismann and Dr. Mortimer Adler

WEISMANN: Could you help us and begin by naming the three bad loves and explaining why they are bad as love--in Christian terms?

ADLER: You may be shocked at first to see what they are--love of money, pride, and romantic love. At first they don't seem to go together, they seem like such different things. But what they have in common (the principle they all violate) is that they are either loves of the wrong subject, or loves of the right objects but in the wrong way. All three violate the precepts of charity. All three consist in displacing God, in deifying something other than God--in loving Mammon rather than God; in loving oneself as if God, the sin of Lucifer; in loving a man or woman as if divine, worshipping or adoring another human being.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

None dare call it "disordered"?

Daniel Mattson, "Homosexual Orientation, or Disorientation?" (First Things, April 10, 2013):
All of us have a longing to be fully known: by ourselves, by others, and by God. Fundamental to Christian thought is this: We can only know ourselves fully when we know ourselves as we are known by God. As Gaudium et Spes teaches, “In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. . . . Christ the new Adam . . . fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling.”

In his address on the World Day of Peace a year ago, Pope Benedict XVI wrote about this longing in all of us: “This is the fundamental question that must be asked: who is man?” In his 2012 Advent address to the Roman Curia, he tells us that the truth of mankind is found within the “blueprint of human existence.”

Questions surrounding the blueprint of human existence and the fundamental question of who man is have been much on my mind in recent months because of several essays on homosexuality published in First Things by Wesley Hill and Joshua Gonnerman. As a man who is also attracted to members of the same sex, I find much to applaud in their writing, namely their adherence to the Church’s teaching on sexual morality. Nevertheless, their embrace of a gay identity (like their claim that they are oriented to the same sex) seems, on my reading, counter to the truth of man and therefore an obstacle to authentic self-knowledge.

In Hill’s otherwise excellent essay entitled “Homosexuality and the Impatience for Joy,” he matter-of-factly uses the phrase “those of us who are gay and Christian,” which seems to be in keeping with his First Thoughts post on the label “gay Christian,” where he speaks of his sexual orientation as “being gay.” His thoughts there echo what he writes in his book, Washed and Waiting, about his adolescence: “I came to realize I was experiencing what was usually called ‘homosexuality.’ I had a homosexual orientation. I was gay.”

In an earlier essay, Hill quotes a writer familiar to readers of First Things, Eve Tushnet, who also embraces a gay identity. In the excerpt quoted by Hill, Tushnet writes, “I do think straight adults often underestimate the loneliness—and fear of even greater future loneliness—of gay Christian teens. But it’s also, of course, very easy for teenagers of any sexual orientation to have unrealistic romantic ideas in which marriage solves the problem of the self.”

Though people may describe themselves by using terms like “gay” or “queer” which are commonly used in today’s culture, as Christians who believe in man created in the image of God, we should ask if these cultural terms are, in fact, true ontological categories of the human person, in accord with the blueprint of human existence.

Gonnerman, for his part, seems to assume that these categories of the human person are foregone conclusions in several of his writings, as well as in his recent discussion of reparative therapy, in which he calls himself “a chaste man who is also gay.”

[Hat tip to JM]


Mark S. Latkovic, "A Précis of the Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality and Homosexual Acts" (Truth & Charity Forum.org, 2013).

"... those of us on the left have made a decision not to cover this ..."

Marc Lamont Hill admitted publicly today, adding "because we worry that it'll compromise abortion rights."

Erik Wemple, "Gosnell case: HuffPost host says left ‘made a decision’ to not cover trial" (Washington Post, April 16, 2013). [Warning: graphic]

This nasty little thing called 'truth' ... Imagine, the media being afraid of it!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Extraordinary Community News

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News (April 14, 2013):
Religion and Art – Part 4 of 5

We continue our reprint of excerpts from an essay entitled Religion and Art by Fr. James Bellord, originally published in the 1910 book, A Pulpit Commentary on Catholic Teaching.

Enter an old Catholic church in an old Catholic city and you are awed into mute wonder. It speaks to you of the eternal, the ancient of days, the immutable: it seems as if its multifarious beauty could never be grasped, and it is certain that man, as at present, could not again produce its like. You feel that it is truly the house of God and the gate of Heaven, a blessed vision of eternal peace. But if it be one that has passed from the Catholic to some reformed Church, what a picture of desolation it presents. It is a desert of monotony and inutility, a storehouse for incongruous tombstones. It is a corpse. That sense of life which comes from the presence of the Most Holy with the beacon lamp and kneeling worshipers is absent. It is the Jerusalem of the captivity. “How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people: how is the sovereign of the Gentiles become as a widow? . . . The ways of Sion mourn because there are none that come to the solemn feast: all her gates are broken down. . . . The enemy hath put out his hand to all her desirable things, for she hath seen the Gentiles enter into her sanctuary, of whom thou gavest command that they should not enter into thy Church” (Lam. i, I, 4, 10).

It is just the same with these altar-pieces, triptychs, chalices, reliquaries and vestments, removed by vandal governments from their natural home to picture galleries and museums. They have lost half their beauty; they are no longer parts of a living beautiful body, but anatomical specimens. How sad and useless they are, taken forever from the service of God, put under glass shades, turned into mere objects of curiosity, from being part of the eternal worship of the Church and aids to faith and virtue!

In painting, too, the soul is gone when faith has ceased. The old monk-artist sought inspiration in prayer and fasting, before taking his brush to portray the Virgin Mother and her Divine Infant. He sought to make men realize spiritual truths and move them to purity and love. The modern artist, pipe in mouth, works from questionable models to make a reputation or to fill his pockets. Modern painters are undoubtedly superior in technical knowledge, in manipulation, archeological correctness of detail; they will reproduce exactly the scenery amidst which our Lord lived, the particulars of His costume, the type of face then prevalent: but the figures are not divine, all spiritual beauty has fled.

Turn from these to the frescoes of Giotto, or the rude mosaic of Ravenna: anatomy, perspective, details are all astray, but you have seen in these works a spiritual life. You feel as if you were actually before the stern, all-seeing, impartial Judge of Mankind, or as if you had seen, face to face, the most pure and most blessed of women. You may see young men, as they come suddenly into the presence of the Madonna di San Sisto, check their laughter, snatch off their hats, and stand silent and motionless, as though they saw a real glimpse of heaven through the parted veil.

A Protestant Dutch School of Art arose some couple of centuries ago. Light and shade portraits, domestic life, tavern orgies, dead game, pots and pans, texture of tapestries and furs they rendered with unexampled perfection. But when they forgot the limits of their powers and tried to soar to the higher level of religious ideas, their incapability was shown by the grotesque and soulless results. Turning to modern days, we may compare ordinary exhibitions of sculpture with the delicate, lovely, and touching conceptions in the great cemeteries of Genoa and Florence. We may see, too, in the undue sentimentalism and ingenious filthiness of academies and salons, how Art can fall when the purifying and ennobling influence of faith is cast off.

Again, the stage is a branch of Art with which the Church has little to do, except to watch it with suspicion, and occasionally to pronounce a warning. Part of it is respectable and really belongs to the domain of high Art. But it has often been a powerful instrument of immorality, and its associations are not always lovely. Yet the Church originated the modern drama in her miracle plays, which still survive in the Passion Plays among remote mountains. These furnish a rare occasion of observing the association of Religion with this form of Art. After feeling the thrilling effect produced by untutored mountaineers, whose chief qualifications are their devotion and belief, and who receive holy Communion by way of preparing for the play, one can understand how much moral power and spiritual and artistic beauty there may be in the drama.

Ruskin has remarked that the decay of a country begins in its Art, and its prosperity is measured by its possession and appreciation of fine artists. The character of its art and the direction of its taste are, of course, closely allied with its national character, in its decline or improvement. I may, perhaps, go farther, still, and suggest that the art of a nation, and especially its religious art, may throw a sidelight on the character of its religion and of its religiousness.

Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 04/15 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Feria of Paschaltide)
  • Tue. 04/16 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Feria of Paschaltide)
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@detroitlatinmass.org. Previous columns are available at http://www.detroitlatinmass.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for April 14, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Joe Tuskiewicz to be Ordained Deacon on April 13

"I will go in unto the Altar of God
To God, Who giveth joy to my youth"

Tridentine Community News (April 7, 2013):
Next Saturday, April 13, at 10:00 AM, Joe Tuskiewicz will be ordained to the Diaconate at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary by Auxiliary Bishop Michael Byrnes. The next day, Sunday, April 14 at 2:00 PM, Joe will serve as Deacon in a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at Windsor’s Assumption Church at 2:00 PM.

Joe is a familiar face and active altar server at local Latin Masses. In 2010, after a distinguished career in advertising, Joe entered Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts, near Boston, to study for the diocesan priesthood for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Religion and Art – Part 3 of 5

We continue our reprint of excerpts from an essay entitled Religion and Art by Fr. James Bellord, originally published in the 1910 book, A Pulpit Commentary on Catholic Teaching. The lessons contained are as relevant today as when they were first published.
Popes and bishops were always the chief patrons of Art. Monasteries were the home of art as well as of piety and learning. Churches sprung up over Europe, each of which was a museum of beauty open for the free enjoyment and culture of all. The walls, the windows, the pavement, the altars, the tombs and the shrines were examples of the best that human taste has ever wrought in stone and wood, embroidery and metal, glass and precious gems. All this was no mere extravagance or luxury, or an artificial or enthusiastic movement, but it was the natural and spontaneous expression of high and noble feelings. Faith and love, generosity and awe, the sense of man’s sin and God’s majesty, and of the truth and eternity of religion, must of necessity find expression for their intensity and their force in works vast, beautiful, and durable. “I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of the house, and the place where Thy glory dwelleth” (Ps. xxv, 8). The spirit of these words, which God poured forth on those who labored on the Temple and Tabernacle of old, we may well believe to have been infused into the souls of the medieval artists, that they might be able to translate, not only their own devotion, but even a reflection of uncreated Beauty into the works of their hands.

So much is Art bound up with the Catholic Church that no history of Art or any portion of it could be written without giving the largest place to Catholic doctrines and customs, to popes and saints. A philosophy of Art would be chiefly a history of one aspect of religion, and of the widespread degradation which follows the decline of its influence. When intolerant atheism shall advance so far as to remove from the streets of cities, the walls of museums, and the shelves of libraries all traces of religious art, as it has already attempted to remove all traces of religion and morality from the school-room, it is not too much to say that ninety-nine per cent. of all the genius, and one hundred per cent. of the refining influence of art, will have perished. When artist or poet wishes to depict the beauty of worship or religious feeling, where else does he seek inspiration but in the solemn High Mass of a Catholic cathedral, or among the crowd who sit round the confessional, or in the daily life of the priest or sister of charity? When the tourist in a foreign land seeks distraction from his year-long toil, in pursuit of the beautiful in nature or in man’s handiwork, where does he find the chief center of attraction?

He goes not to the churches of his own religion, but to a Church whose doctrines he disbelieves, and whose worship he scoffs at; doing it unwilling homage by recognizing in it a sense of life, truth of devotion, majesty, of worship, beauty of workmanship, and by yielding to the feelings of awe which these things enforce. It is strange that so many can admit the Catholic Church to be the highest expression on earth of religious beauty; i. e., of divine beauty, both material and mental, and yet fail to recognize in her the highest expression of divine truth and law. For the True, the Good, and the Beautiful are one and indivisible.

This suggests another thought; that, where religious truth has failed, there will the sense of beauty be impaired and its ideal lowered in the course of time. This age is far superior to any preceding in wealth, knowledge, mechanical appliances, and general cultivation. Our great works surpass in many ways those of the Ages of Faith. How wonderful are our railways, bridges, hotels, warehouses! For utility they are supreme; but not one is marked by the extraordinary beauty of ancient times. Town-halls, castles, streets, churches especially, had a beauty now irrecoverable. Architecture was never so overwhelming for its power and gracefulness as in the old Catholic churches. A great building reflects, as does a great book, the mind and qualities of its architect, as he reflects these of his age. The qualities of the times of faith have perished, so we can no longer produce their effects.

How melancholy, as a rule, are our attempts to revive an old style of architecture; they are no longer the spontaneous expression of an original mind, but are forced and lifeless imitations, mechanically made; they are like a stolid wax figure with its smooth countenance and fixed expression, by the side of a living face full of character, brightness, and emotion. There are few of these medieval revivals which are not marked by inconsistency and inharmony of parts, servile imitation or glaring bad taste. Let there be a vast competition of designs and selection of one by a committee, let cheapness be one of the points of merit, and the result will be one of those abominations and eyesores that disfigure our modern cities.
Tridentine Masses This Coming Week
  • Mon. 04/08 7:00 PM: Low Mass at St. Josaphat (Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
  • Tue. 04/09 7:00 PM: Low Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Low Requiem Mass with Absolution at the Catafalque)
  • Sun. 04/14 2:00 PM: Solemn High Mass at Assumption-Windsor (Second Sunday After Easter)
[Comments? Please e-mail tridnews@detroitlatinmass.org. Previous columns are available at http://www.detroitlatinmass.org. This edition of Tridentine Community News, with minor editions, is from the St. Josaphat (Detroit) and Assumption (Windsor) bulletin inserts for April 7, 2013. Hat tip to A.B., author of the column.]

The Fog of Fr. Reese

Canonist Ed Peters helps blow away the fog of confusion in a good article, "A couple notes on today’s DFP article on holy Communion and gay activists, esp in re Fr. Reese" (In the Light of the Law, April 8, 2013). As always, Peters is well worth reading. Just this excerpt:
... setting aside his transparent attempt to steer the Canon 915 discussion into the voting booth, wherein no one thinks it applies -- Reese is commenting on how bishops act whereas I am commenting on how canon law expects bishops and others to act.
There's more; but how can any fog (let alone that of Reese) abide such lucid brevity?!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

A last farewell to Lady Thatcher

And it all started in a little town known as Grantham in Lincolnshire, England, four miles from the village of Harlaxton, for any of you who remember the haunts thereabouts, the Gregory Arms, Harlaxton Manor ...

[Hat tip to Fr. Z. and M.M.]

The coming crunch: will younger Christians have the stomach ...?

Pastor Kevin DeYoung at University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, MI, offers "Three More [interesting] Thoughts on the Gay Marriage Debate" on his blog (DeYoung, Restless & Reformed, April 4, 2013), with good, well-though-out replies to questions like (1) "Why don’t we just separate the religious and civil dimensions of marriage?" or (2) "As long as we, as Christians, can have our view of marriage, what’s the big deal if the government allows for other kinds of marriage?" and (3) "Will all of this spell disaster for the church?"

In response to the last question, he replies:
That depends. It could mean marginalization, name calling, and worse. But that’s no disaster. That may be the signs of faithfulness. The church is sometimes the most vibrant, the most articulate, and the most holy when the world presses down on her most. But only sometimes. I care about the decisions of the Supreme Court and the laws our politicians put in place. But what’s much more important to me—because I believe it’s more crucial to the spread of the gospel, the growth of the church, and the honor of Christ—what happens in our churches, our mission agencies, our denominations, our parachurch organizations, and in our educational institutions. I fear that younger Christians may not have the stomach for disagreement or the critical mind for careful reasoning. We’re going to need a good dose of the fundamentalist obstinacy that most evangelicals love to lampoon.... (emphasis added)
At this point, the reader who sent me the link to DeYoung's article appends a comment, right after the word "lampoon":
... the same way Nouvelle theologians loved to lampoon pre-conciliar Cathoicism? Why indeed, YES! And the irony is this: in Fundamentalism and Catholicism both, as the progressives dismiss the old guard, they claim the theological high ground while all the soil of faithful followers lives disintegrates beneath them. I have watched it at [an evangelical university], where they are far too cultured to foreswear dancing now, but also as a population far too theologically unversed to discuss most any contemporary issue from anything but emotional turf. If you can't imagine the result of that, just picture -- ahem -- any modern suburban Catholic parish!
"The challenge before the church," says DeYoung, "is to convince ourselves, as much as anyone, that believing the Bible [and, we would add, the Magisterium] does not make us bigots, just as reflecting the times does not make us relevant."

[Hat tip to J.M.]

Revisiting Joseph Smith's Novel History

The underestimation of the divide between Mormonism and mainstream Christianity (CWR, April 5, 2013)

by Joseph F. Martin

Left: Portrait of Joseph Smith by an unknown painter, c. 1842. Right: A stained glass window (1913) depicting Smith's claimed encounter with Jesus and God the Father, on display at the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City, Utah.
It is safe to say that when the Mormons built a fantastic, six-spired, gleaming Mormon Temple outside of Washington, DC in 1974, not too many East Coasters were familiar with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) story. I recall gawking at the temple during a drive, as my brother’s Catholic friend knowingly intoned that the gold figure topping the tallest spire represented the angel Gabriel blowing his trumpet at the end of the world. To my then-Methodist ears that sounded appealingly Evangelical. And of course it was entirely wrong. But it was typical of how most people approached Mormonism, interpreting their encounters with LDS believers with the assumption that they shared a common Christian vocabulary and frame of reference with the group, which, while maybe a bit separatist, had to be essentially like all the other “denominations.”

In the years since, thanks to Mormonism’s exponential growth and our accelerated media culture, the LDS church has become far less of a mystery in many ways. Stories of Joseph Smith’s vision and his digging up golden plates from which he translated The Book of Mormon—essentially an Incan reimagining of the New Testament—as well as Brigham Young’s trek across the Rockies have become just another chapter in American lore. Mormons tend to be outstanding people, salt of the earth—and with Western culture rapidly secularizing, many Christians now are advocating that the LDS are actually separated, albeit peculiarly so, brethren.

This seems to be the take of Stephen Webb. In a fascinating piece for First Things (Feb. 2012), titled “Mormonism Obsessed with Christ,” he says that for a large part of his teaching career, he did not try to hide his condescension towards Mormonism. But, Webb writes, “I have come to repent of this view, and not just because I came to my senses about how wrong it is to be rude toward somebody else’s faith. I changed my mind because I came to realize just how deeply Christ-centered Mormonism is.”
For Martin's thoughtful critique of this attitude, Read More Here >>

20 years of Popery and counting ...

I forgot to mention here that Holy Wednesday was the 20th anniversary of my reception into the Church back in 1993 by a wonderful African-American priest of Madagascan ancestry, Fr. Wilbur N. Thomas (now Rector of the Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville, NC). It has been a journey down roads full of unwanted pot holes and many surprises, but a journey I never once regretted. It has been one of the single most important decisions of my life.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Coming soon to a bank near you

"Cyprus bail-out: savers will be raided to save euro in future crises, says eurozone chief" (The Telegraph, March 25, 2013): "Savings accounts in Spain, Italy and other European countries will be raided if needed to preserve Europe's single currency by propping up failing banks, a senior eurozone official has announced.... Ditching a three-year-old policy of protecting senior bondholders and large depositors, over €100,000, in banks, Mr Dijsselbloem argued that the lack of market contagion surrounding Cyprus showed that private investors could now be hit to pay for bad banking debts."

Romanian lawyer sues bishop & 4 priests claiming they failed to exorcise flatulent demons in his house

Madalin Ciculescu, 34, claims the flatulent demons are ruining his business. Reports claim that he plans to go to the European Court of Human Rights. Should be interesting. (Mail Online, April 6, 2013).

[Hat tip to E. Foster]

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Plenary Indulgence Avalable this Sunday

Tell your favorite Lutheran!Ask a Lutheran whether he agrees with the following theses from Luther's famous 95 Theses:
6. The pope cannot remit any guilt ... though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.

38. [T]he remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.

56. The "treasures of the Church," out of which the pope grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.

73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.

77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.
[Hat tip to L.S.]

Liturgical wisdom and wit of George Weigel

Not every book George Weigel writes is on a subject above his pay grade. He is, in fact, a very good writer, often well-researched, and sometimes very clever. The first book of his I read was Tranquillitas Ordinis: The Present Failure and Future Promise of American Catholic Thought on War and Peace(New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), which I thought very good -- excellent, in fact; and I have read many articles by him since, first in the pages of Crisis Magazine, when it was still a print magazine, and then in First Things and National Review, which fairly impressed me.

The book in question here, however, is entitled Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church(New York: Basic Books, 2013), and my first reaction before reading the book is to ask myself, Now what in the blazes is that supposed to mean: Evangelical Catholicism? Is this yet another attempt to re-invent the proverbial wheel? or to produce a fast-food version of the Real Thing called McCatholicism or something?

Whatever it is, if George Weigel has produced it, you can be sure that it has the corporation's brand name and seal of approval on it. He would see to that. The man is well-connected (Just read his biography). In the retrospective issue of First Things after the death of Fr. Neuhaus, there were photos in which you could see the young Weigel together with Neuhaus, with William F. Buckley, and a host of other major movers and shakers. He wrote a massive biography of Pope John Paul II, and, of course, he is also (let me pause just a moment here while I clear my throat) Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

But I digress ... Here, of course, our concern is liturgy, and the following is a taste of what Weigel suggests Evangelical Catholicism envisions by "Deep Reform" in the liturgy, which comes in a secion entitled "Reform, Not Nostalgia" of Chapter 7, "The Evangelical Catholic Reform of the Liturgy":
The reform of the Church's liturgy in Evangelical Catholicism is emphatically not an exercise in nostalgia: nor does it begin from the premise that the Novus Ordo of Pope Paul VI--the form of the Roman Rite developed by the Concilium for the implementation of Vatican II's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy--was a serious mistake. There were certainly grave mistakes in the implementation of the Novus Ordo liturgy. Thus Evangelical Catholicism welcomes the revival of the Missal of 1962 (the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite) for its capacity to inspire a more dignified celebration of the Novus Ordo. But the evangelical Catholic liturgical renewal of the twenty-first century will be built from the Novus Ordo, particularly as embodied in the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, not from a return to the preconciliar liturgy.

For a small minority of Catholics, the Missal of 1962 offers a way of prayer most conducive to the worship they seek to offer. For the overwhelming majority of Catholics, however, the reform of the reform will be an ongoing reform of the Novus Ordo as outlined above. That reform will be retarded, not advanced, by exercises in liturgical nostalgia that, by seeking to re-create an imagined past (which is, in truth, barely recognizable as the 'past' that Catholics who lived in the 1950s would recognize), fail to set an appropriate course for the future. This kind of ill-informed nostalgia cannot contribute to the development of Evangelical Catholicism in the twenty-first century; the reform of the reform of the liturgy will not be advanced by a return to the use of the maniple, or by the widespread revival of fiddleback chasubles, or by a proliferation of lace surplices and albs, or by other exercises in retro-liturgy.
(p. 168)
The end of this sentence carries an endnote. As I said, Weigel is very clever; and his pièce de résistance comes in this endnote (n. 11, p. 274). He writes with delicious (but undoubtedly altogether charitable and not the least bit malicious) irony:
How anyone can imagine that the abundant use of lace in liturgical vestments advances the reform of the priesthood as a manly vocation is one of the minor mysteries of early twenty-first century Catholic life.
There is so much Weigel get's wrong here that many contemporary Catholics are simply clueless about, it will be fun to see who wins at the carnival game of throwing the ball that hits its target, releasing the victim into the barrel of cold water. Like I said, he's one clever cookie. Happy aiming. Enjoy yourselves, but be charitable.

[Hat tip to E. Echeverria]

Update: ... and sometimes it appears that even Francis agrees with Pope George.

Friday, April 05, 2013

CWR removes Deavel's review of Ralph Martin's book

Emails about this have been circulating everywhere, and posts have now been appearing, so I will be brief: Paul Deavel wrote a detailed favorable review of Ralph Martin's book, Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization.(We posted an article on Martin's book, "Oh Hell" in Musings, back on Dec. 14, 2012) Deavel's review is entitled "Vatican II and the 'Bad News' of the Gospel."

Now Ignatius Press has removed the review of Dr. Martin's book initially posted on CWR. Ignatius Press President, Mark Brumley, candidly acknowledges pulling Martin's article in a CWR post HERE (CWR, April 1, 2013): "This is blatant censorship by me, Mark Brumley," he states, tongue-in-cheek; however, it doesn't sound like an April Fool's joke. From what he suggests, they want a "fuller treatment of a difficult subject than the original view" provided, and so they are looking to host a number of articles from a number of perspectives in future issues. One wonders about any connections here to the life-long investment of Ignatius Press in the publication of Hans Urs von Balthasaar's works in English translation.

Sheesh! It's not as if poor Dr. Martin is some foam-at-the-mouth TRADITIONALIST or something! Give the guy a break! =)

[Hat tip to SHMS colleagues]

Update: "Forbidden text and Catholic samizdat: 'Vatican II and the "Bad News" of the Gospel'" (Rorate Caeli, April 8, 2013).