Monday, 11 January


Pilgrimage to Allen [St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association]

We started the year well, with a pilgrimage to Allen, Co. Kildare, a spot rich in Catholic heritage.  For us, it is the home place and burial place of one of our founder members - it is a holy and a wholesome thing to remember our debt to deceased members.

At the Hill of Allen we have a traditional residence of Fionn MacCumhail, the son-in-law of King Cormac MacAirt, the greatest of the High Kings of Ireland, who, by a happy inspiration, renounced the Pagan Gods and embraced the One True God, even before the arrival of Saint Patrick.  Sir Samuel Ferguson's poem gives the account:

"Crom Cruach and his sub-gods twelve,"
 Said Cormac "are but carven treene;
 The axe that made them, haft or helve,
 Had worthier of our worship been.

"But He who made the tree to grow,
 And hid in earth the iron-stone,
 And made the man with mind to know
 The axe's use, is God alone."

Anon to priests of Crom was brought —
Where, girded in their service dread,
They minister'd on red Moy Slaught —
Word of the words King Cormac said.

They loosed their curse against the king;
They cursesd him in his flesh and bones;
And daily in their mystic ring
They turn'd the maledictive stones,

Till, where at meat the monarch sate,
Amid the revel and the wine,
He choked upon the food he ate,
At Sletty, southward of the Boyne.

High vaunted then the priestly throng,
And far and wide they noised abroad
With trump and loud liturgic song
The praise of their avenging God.

But ere the voice was wholly spent
That priest and prince should still obey,
To awed attendants o'er him bent
Great Cormac gather'd breath to say, —

"Spread not the beds of Brugh for me
When restless death-bed's use is done:
But bury me at Rossnaree
And face me to the rising sun.

"For all the kings who lie in Brugh
Put trust in gods of wood and stone;
And 'twas at Ross that first I knew
One, Unseen, who is God alone.

"His glory lightens from the east;
His message soon shall reach our shore;
And idol-god, and cursing priest
Shall plague us from Moy Slaught no more."

Dead Cormac on his bier they laid: —
"He reign'd a king for forty years,
And shame it were," his captains said, 
"He lay not with his royal peers."

"His grandsire, Hundred-Battle, sleeps
Serene in Brugh: and, all around,
Dead kings in stone sepulchral keeps
Protect the sacred burial ground.

"What though a dying man should rave
Of changes o'er the eastern sea?
In Brugh of Boyne shall be his grave,
And not in noteless Rossnaree."

Then northward forth they bore the bier,
And down from Sletty side they drew,
With horsemen and with charioteer,
To cross the fords of Boyne to Brugh.

There came a breath of finer air
That touch'd the Boyne with ruffling wings,
It stir'd him in his sedgy lair 
And in his mossy moorland springs.

And as the burial train came down
With dirge and savage dolorous shows,
Across their pathway, broad and brown
The deep, full-hearted river rose;

From bank to bank through all his fords,
'Neath blackening squalls he swell'd and boil'd;
And thrice the wondering gentile lords 
Essay'd to cross, and thrice recoil'd.

Then forth stepp'd grey-hair'd warriors four:
They said, "Through angrier floods than these,
On link'd shields once our king we bore
From Dread-Spear and the hosts of Deece."

"And long as loyal will holds good,
And limbs respond with helpful thews,
Nor flood, nor fiend within the flood,
Shall bar him of his burial dues."

With slanted necks they stoop'd to lift;
They heaved him up to neck and chin;
And, pair and pair, with footsteps swift,
Lock'd arm and shoulder, bore him in.

'Twas brave to see them leave the shore;
to mark the deep'ning surges rise,
And fall subdued in foam before 
The tension of their striding thighs.

'Twas brave, when now a spear-cast out,
Breast-high the battling surges ran;
For weight was great, and limbs were stout,
And loyal man put trust in man.

But ere they reach'd the middle deep,
Nor steadying weight of clay they bore,
Nor strain of sinewy limbs could keep
Their feet beneath the swerving four.

And now they slide, and now they swim,
And now, amid the blackening squall,
Grey locks aloat, with clutching grim,
They plunge around the floating pall.

While, as a youth with practiced spear
Through justling crowds bears off the ring,
Boyne from their shoulders caught the bier
And proudly bore away the king.

At morning, on the grassy marge
Of Rossnaree, the corpse was found,
And shepherds at their early charge
Entomb'd it in the peaceful ground.

A tranquil spot: a hopeful sound
Comes from the ever youthful stream,
And still on daisied mead and mound
The dawn delays with tenderer beam.

Round Cormac Spring renews her buds:
In march perpetual by his side,
Down come the earth-fresh April floods,
And up the sea-fresh salmon glide;

And life and time rejoicing run
From age to age their wonted way;
But still he waits the risen Sun,
For still 'tis only' dawning Day.

Allen was the seat of the Bishops of Kildare in hiding during the Penal Era.  Bishop Comerford in his Collections quotes from a letter of Bishop Doyle of Kildare and Leighlin from 6th July, 1823:

“I am here placed in the centre of an immense bog, which takes its name from a small hill under whose declivity the chapel and house are built, where I now write. What perhaps interests me most in the wide and vast expanse of the Bog of Allen is, that it afforded, for nearly two centuries, a place of refuge to the apostolic men who have gone before me in preaching the faith, and administering the sacraments to a people in every respect worthy of such pastors. The haunts and retreats frequented by the Bishops of Kildare in the times of persecution are still pointed out by aged inhabitants of these marshes with a sort of pride mingled with piety; and they say-‘There he administered Confirmation; here he held an assembly of the clergy; on that hill he ordained some young priests, whom he sent to France to Spain, to Italy; and we remember, or we heard, how he lived in yonder old walls in common with the young priests whom he prepared for the mission. He sometimes left us with a staff in his hand, and being absent months, we feared he would never return; but he always came back, until he closed his days amongst us. Oh! If you saw him; he was like St. Patrick himself.’ What think you, my dear friend, must be my reflections on hearing of the danger, and labours, and virtues of these good men, and what a reproach to my own sloth, and sensuality, and pride! They of whom the world was not worthy, and who went about in fens and morasses, in nakedness, and thirst, and hunger, and watching, and terror, will be witnesses against me for not using to the best advantage the blessings which their merits have obtained from God for their children. Their spirit, indeed, seems to dwell here, and in those remote and uncultivated districts there are found a purity and simplicity of morals truly surprising. From five to six o’ clock this morning the roads and fields were covered with poor people, young and old, healthy and infirm, hurrying to see the Bishop, and assist at his Mass, and hear his instructions. They thought he should be like those saints whom they had seen or heard of to have gone before him”

Allen was the parish where the famous Father Moore ministered towards the end of that Era and was killed in hatred of his Priesthood on 12th March, 1826, aged 47 years, and where his healing ministry continues at the nearby Father Moore's Well to this day.

The first Mass in the present magnificent Church was celebrated on Easter Sunday, 1872.  Despite being one of the gems of Church architecture in the Diocese - recently magnificently restored - it is barely mentioned by Bishop Comerford, the great historian of the Diocese.


David Bowie Died [Abbey Roads]

Never liked his work.

Too effeminate, too androgynous, too gay ...



Cardinal Wuerl Must Have Seen a “Call to Battle!” [One Mad Mom]

This:  Please read while I’m putting my eyes back in my head, tongue back in my mouth, and getting my chin off the floor! What the heck?! Can we get more of THIS Cardinal Wuerl? Better yet, can he please write responses for the Pope on this issue?  Just a couple of months ago I was lamenting his ambiguous synod comments and now this?


First, any person who struggles in trying to live according to the revealed truth of Catholic teaching should know the Church recognizes his or her dignity as created by God and that the person need not face life’s challenges apart from the grace of the Lord and his Church, which seeks only the highest good for everyone.

The Church recognizes that we all need to grow in faith and in closeness to the Lord. Simply acting contrary to Church teaching on occasion would not preclude serving as a ministerial employee or volunteer. For us to acknowledge that we are sinners, as we do, is to admit that occasionally we too have at times not lived up to the truth. On those occasions, we are expected to acknowledge our failings and seek to amend our lives in Christ.

However, if one persists or effectively insists that they are right and the Church is wrong, in the face of such irreconcilable differences it is not discrimination or punishment to say that continued ministerial service is not possible. It is not a question of personal private activity, but the social consequences of conduct which undermines the Church’s ability to fulfill her mission. When there is the potential for scandal that might lead people astray regarding the Catholic faith, continued service becomes untenable. (Emphasis from here on out, all mine!)

<Snip for brevity – it’s all awesome though!>

“We all are at the service of the mission of Christ,” and particularly for those in ministerial positions, “no one can claim a right simultaneously to work for the Church and to work against her belief” (23). When a person involved in ministerial activity offers a counter-witness to Catholic teaching by words or public conduct, however earnest they may be, experience shows that it can lead people away from the truth and otherwise have an adverse effect on our mission. The Church not only must be free to then take corrective steps, it has an obligation in charity and truth to do so.


And no official would ever continue to employ someone who in his off-hours publicly demonstrated that he was opposed to the official’s policies or campaigned for the official’s opponent.

That last line harkens back to Archbishop Cordileone’s comment during his handbook fight. It’s a big “Duh!” the liberals just don’t seem to get or it’s the double standard they want us to simply take with our mouths shut.

The Church we serve is not ours, but Christ’s. The greatest mercy of the Church is to be faithful witnesses of his truth and love. It is precisely through the witness of authentic Catholic teaching, which is the revealed truth of the Gospel, that the parishioners in the pews, the young people in our schools, the people served in our charitable ministries, and the world at large will find salvation.

This is kind of the perfect response I wish the Holy Father had given, rather than the “Who am I to judge?” response.  I think every cardinal and bishop should bookmark this one. No need to re-invent the wheel. Clear. Concise. No backpedaling and, most importantly, NO APOLOGIES for doing what the Church is supposed to do! Did I think I’d be giving kudos to Cardinal Wuerl twice in a year’s time? I’m not sure I thought I’d even do it once.  Here’s hoping 2016 sees that trend continue and here’s hoping our cardinals and bishops continue to focus on strengthening the mission of the Church in this new year!




Why Traditionalists Are Not Afraid of Sedevacantism [The Remnant Newspaper - The Remnant Newspaper - Remnant Articles]

Recently, Father Anthony Cekada released a video entitled “Why Traditionalists Fear Sedevacantism”.  The video is a response to the soon-to-be-released book by John Salza and Robert Siscoe, True...

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Scandalous Video: Child Jesus and His Church Humiliated [The Remnant Newspaper - The Remnant Newspaper - Remnant Articles]

Editor's Note: I'm pleased to note that our friends at Adelante la Fe (who operate The Remnant's Spanish-lanugage website) are beginning to make some of their fine articles available in English. The...

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Radicati EDITORIAL: An Indulgence is not a Truce [RORATE CÆLI]

An Indulgence is not a Truce

Editorial: Radicati nella fede, January 2016
Newsletter of the Catholic community of
Vocogno, Diocese of Novara, Italy

“The post-conciliar Church? It is a Church in which life is removed considerably from the event of Calvary. A Church that diminishes its demands and doesn’t resolve problems anymore according to the will of God, but according to human possibilities. A Church which I believe has become elastic and morally relativistic. A Church in the fog and without the tables of the Law. A Church that closes its eyes to sin, that fears reproach for not being modern.” (Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski)

Why has the Church observed Holy years, why has She held Jubilees with their plenary indulgences? Basically because men must turn back to God and separate themselves from sin which brings eternal death. There is no other reason, there is absolutely no other!

We are witnessing [at present] a peculiar insistence on the mercy of God which sounds foreign, very foreign to Catholic ears. We hear talk of the Lord who is always forgiving, but this insistence is never preceded and accompanied by the memory of the gravity of sin, in [all] its deadly consequences.

It’s the same old story: Catholic truths are taken, isolated from all the rest and transformed into something else. It’s the technique for the founding of a new Church, the church of humanity which is not the Church of Christ.

In all of this there is something illogical, something not reasonable: why in the world would the Lord accept you with mercy if you didn’t need to be pulled out of sin and death?

Today it is fashionable, even in the Church, to talk about the goodness of God without referring to the seriousness of sin – every sin. In fact, those in the Church who still dare to denounce evil and its gravity, are seen as an enemy of God’s mercy, to be eliminated like a false prophet, so that the beauty of the “new church” may finally shine through.

Many moral disasters will occur this Holy Year if we don’t return to the true Mercy, the mercy of Christ, Who, in accepting you, sorrowful for your sins, forgives you and says: “from now on, sin no more.”

The mercy of God, of Christ, can never be separated from the firm condemnation of sin, every sin. Rather it is in teaching properly the gravity of sin that the Church has always opened hearts to the true mercy of God.

Blessed Cardinal Newman has striking words to say about the need for the severe condemnation of sin. Speaking of the Church’s doctrinal task, he has this to say:

“And first, the initial doctrine of the infallible teacher must be an emphatic protest against the existing state of mankind. Man had rebelled against his Maker. It was this that caused the divine interposition: and to proclaim it must be the first act of the divinely accredited messenger.” (Apologia pro vita sua, Chapter V).

There’s no way round it, the great Cardinal Newman, passed off too many times as an anticipator of conciliar confusion, is clear about this: man’s rebellion against God needs to be denounced, and this denunciation is at the heart of the Church’s words, it comes before anything else, with it, everything else begins!

But, let’s continue with Newman:

“The Church must denounce rebellion as of all possible evils the greatest. She must have no terms with it; if She would be true to Her Master, She must ban and anathematize it.” (ibid.) Quite different this from the confusion that surrounds and submerges us! Quite different this from the confusion following the Synod on the Family, which well prepared the confusion of the Jubilee!

Not denouncing sin is de facto having terms with sin; it is perceived by the majority this way . It is understood as a truce, as the Church’s renunciation of the fight against evil and the demon. It is understood as a change in morals, as a crossing-out of some commandments from the Decalogue, to make a truce with the world that has no intention of changing.

In fact, there is the risk that this Holy Year with its “broad idea” of mercy is understood as a great truce with sin. This foreshadows the birth of a new church reconciled with the modern world, that has no desire whatsoever to change: what deadly illusion!

A deadly illusion is to think that the world can be won over with forgiveness that doesn’t require sorrow for sin and a resolution not to sin anymore! A deadly illusion is to think that the churches can be filled up by not demanding anything from souls. A deadly illusion, is to think about opening the doors wide to everyone without asking anything from them: many perhaps will come in, but they will occupy a weak church, which will be transformed into their image; and after having made it similar to the confused place they came from, they will reject it for the umpteenth time as a useless church.

What’s the use of a church that blesses but has no longer any desire to convert ? What’s the use of a church that has renounced the great work of Christ - that of saving souls - by causing their true conversion and sanctifying them through Grace? What’s the use of a church which in being unfaithful to its Master, is ashamed of His holy words: “Go, your sins are forgiven, and from now on sin no more, so that nothing worse befalls you”?

But let’s take heed again to the words of the great John Henry Newman:

“The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say should be lost, but should commit one venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.” (ibid).

Is our Catholic conscience still like this? Is the task of the Church still understood like this?

Beloved, the task of the Church cannot change, because Christ does not change. Let’s not trust those false teachers who exchange forgiveness and a plenary indulgence with a “truce” of a far too human savour that tastes of the diabolic.

The Church has been set as a bastion against evil, for the salvation of souls from the abyss of sin:
“It is because of the intensity of the evil which has possession of mankind, that a suitable antagonist has been provided against it; and the initial act of that divinely-commissioned power is of course to deliver Her challenge and to defy the enemy. Such a preamble then gives a meaning to Her position in the world, and an interpretation to Her whole course of teaching and action.” (ibid).

This is why a Church that understands mercy as a “truce” is pure nonsense and is the very destruction of the Church Herself. A Church so badly reduced will no longer have a position in the world…actually, it is already so.

Let’s pray to the Lord and the Virgin Mary so that they many grant us shepherds after the heart of God, who are not afraid of confronting sin and of setting themselves up as a challenge against the enemy; and that they may give all of us the intelligence to recognize such shepherds.

[Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]


Cardinal Ravasi Gives Laudatory Farewell to Lifelong Occultist [The Eponymous Flower]

Edit:  Just in time for Voris' recent accusation comes this.  Cardinal Ravasi has enjoyed the uncritical patronage of Pope Francis, and  has also been in a significant position for a while, notably as the head of the Pontifical Council of Culture and President of the Synod of Bishops where he undermined the sacrament of marriage.   He is also a bit of an occultist himself.

Now he's made this tweet on behalf of the late David Jones aka David Bowie:

The late darling of Cardinal Ravasi's idolatry had a long history of practicing occultism, black magic, Crowleyism, advocate of gender ideology and was a self-described Gnostic.  He believed that magic led to his fortune and fame.

He scandalized the public by making a similar tweet, quoting Lou Reed's tribute to heroin when the nihilistic pop star died at the age of 71.

Of course you'd expect a positive reaction from the aberrosexual enabling, Old Liberal Jesuit, James Martin who described he Cardinal's tweet as "elegant" on his Facebook page.


Milwaukee TV stations snub pro-life ad on fetal parts bill [The Badger Catholic]

Two Milwaukee, Wisconsin, TV stations – Fox6 and WISN – are refusing to air a pro-life advertisement in support of legislation banning the use of aborted babies’ remains in medical research.

The ad, sponsored by Pro-Life Wisconsin and Wisconsin Family Action, contrasts ultrasound footage of preborn children with the monetary value of their organs discussed by Planned Parenthood officials in a series of undercover videos released over the past several months by the Center for Medical Progress. The Wisconsin Legislature is currently considering AB 305, which “prohibits a person from knowingly providing, receiving, or using, for experimentation, a fetal body part in this state, regardless of whether the provision, receipt, or use is for valuable consideration.”

WISN told the pro-life groups they could air the ad during entertainment programming, but not during the evening news as they had originally hoped. As for Fox6, sales director Mike Neal wrote that station management was “not comfortable with the content during morning, daytime and primetime hours,so they agreed only to run the commercial between 10:00 PM and 4:00 AM.
continue at LiveActionNews


Did you know the Ordinary Form Mass is not Catholic? [Abbey Roads]

That's the opinion of commentators at Catholic Herald.

It is of course completely Catholic.  It is the Ordinary Form, the liturgical norm and usage throughout the Latin rite.

Francis Phillips who writes for the Herald and reviews books, posted on the subject: "...the Novus Ordo can be beautiful too."  Evidently Catholics in the UK never knew that?

I came across comments to the post which begged to differ, such as this one: It's not a question of the Novus Ordo being said reverently: it's a question of whether it is Catholic or not. It isn't.

Really, Margaret Thatcher?  Such eccentricities.

I replied: Amazing. One ought to inform Popes Benedict and Francis and surely notify the CDF. The Ordinary Form Mass is not Catholic?

What a wicked thing to say.

My parish just received a very good young priest as our new pastor - he prays the Mass beautifully.  Whenever he is away - his proteges from the seminary celebrate Mass instead.  The vestments are Gothic, the liturgy is celebrated solemnly - devoutly and prayerfully; right order is in place for the reception of the Eucharist - the rubrics are followed, the Mass is prayerful and dignified to the conclusion.  It is the exact same Mass celebrated by all the Popes since Bl. Paul VI.  The new pastor has adjusted daily Mass schedules and confession schedules to make them more available for parishioners and non-parishioners alike.

The suggestion that the Ordinary Form is not Catholic is offensive.  To say the Ordinary Form is not Catholic is in itself not Catholic.  It is exactly this type of journalism and commentary which scatters the seeds of division and doubt among ordinary Catholics.


Speaking on the Benedict Option in Boston & Two Questions [Unequally Yoked]

I’m in Boston tomorrow night (Jan 12) for a Theology on Tap on the topic of Accidental Stylites: The Benedict Option and the American Church I’m going to talk about the Benedict Option movement (ways for modern Christians to root their faith in community and friends so that they can wind up living it more [Read More...]


... and NOTTINGHAM! [Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment]

S Peter's Nottingham, Sundays at 18.00 hours, Mass according to the Ordinariate Use. BUT SEE THE THREAD.


Discuss: Iron Man or Captain America [Creative Minority Report]

*subhead*Talk amongst yourselves.*subhead*
Last week I asked CMR readers which was the better role model Iron Man or Captain America. Thank-you to all who responded.

Not surprisingly, Cap won the day by an overwhelming margin. One person asked if it was even a question. I think it is.

I will be honest the poll was pretty loaded. (It caused quite a tempest in a teapot on my personal Facebook page.) I wanted to see if Captain America's immoral origins played any part in whether we hold him up as a role model, or if we are blind to the subversive aspects of  his character because he is such a great guy. The reality of Captain America is that Steve Rogers was a normal, healthy man that was experimented on by his government to make a weapon for war. Morally wrong on multiple levels, and neither he nor the government are repentant about what happened. It is a model I hope no young American ever emulates, but because Captain America is such a likable character, I fear a generation of our citizens subconsciously believes the way to serve your country is to unnecessarily sacrifice your body to experimentation for the greater good.

On the other hand, Tony Stark, while being an unlikable rake in the new films, has the better approach to super-soldier making. Instead of building a better soldier, he builds better suits. That fact seems to get lost in Tony's very distasteful personality.

You may think this discussion matters less than how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. It is actually quite important because the military is always trying to improve soldier performance. A recent article in Army magazine called Supersoldiers: Can Science and Technology Deliver Better Performance? explores both approaches: building better soldiers or building better suits.

I know which course they should take. The one that treats soldiers like human beings and not like equipment to be upgraded.

And this goes beyond the military. Once they regularly modify their soldiers for the job to be done, other professions will follow.

So I want to explore the question: Does Captain America's origin story matter to you when it comes to his role model status? Or does his personality outweigh how he came to be?

I would love your thoughts on this. Please let me know what you think.

Rebecca Taylor blogs at Mary Meets Dolly


A Francis Revolution? [ignatius his conclave]

41pnq6+o3JL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)The new collection of interviews with the Holy Father (‘The Name of God is Mercy: A Conversation with Andrea Tornielli’, Bluebird Books, published January 12, £12.99) is already causing a stir.

‘Pope Francis tells the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics that their Church “does not exist to condemn people” in a major new book in which he discusses challenges over divorce, sexuality and corruption. In the most revealing glimpse yet into his thoughts on the struggles facing Catholicism in the 21st Century, he shakes off its centuries-old image as a stern moral judge, insisting its core purpose is instead to spread the “infinite mercy of God”’.

So the Sunday Telegraph. In an article by John Bingham and Peter (‘Pope Joan’) Stanford (who else?) the impression given is that the new book is a landmark in what some have called ‘The Francis Revolution’

‘The tone of his remarks on mercy will be read closely for signals about his intentions.’

Indeed they will. But when read, few will conclude that he is saying anything new, much less revolutionary:

Francis repeats (and of course it is worth endless repetition) that Confession is not about guilt and ‘repression’, but about forgiveness and new life. In a vivid image (which in the end does not stand up to careful scrutiny) he calls for the Church to be ‘a field hospital for the wounded.’ Francis is putting mission at the heart of the Church’s life.  But the notion, after all, is commonplace and perennial. ‘The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members’, said William Temple, famously. And who is Francis to disagree with him?  Francis, visiting those in prison, has often felt – if things had turned out differently – that he might have been imprisoned himself. The reflection, though no doubt heartfelt, is hardly original. ‘There, but for the grace of God go I’. Francis is possessed of a conviction that he himself is a sinner. But how is that remarkable? It is surely an inescapable sentiment, especially in the lineal successor of the one who denied his Lord three times.

But the Telegraph article  was not about any of these things, important as they are. So let us cut to the chase.

Each of us has to open the door “a crack” to recognise our own sinfulness, Pope Francis urges, to receive mercy. His remarks will be read with particular attention by divorced and gay Catholics, some of whom have argued at the time of the recent synods in Rome that the failure of their marriage, or their sexuality, should not be seen as a sin.

Bingham and Stanford are vainly striving to turn routine re-iteration of Christian doctrine into ‘revolutionary’ statements which support their shared agenda – which is, of course, about divorced and gay Catholics. Clearly they have never heard – or never taken to heart – the words that the teenage Jorge Bergoglio must have heard repeatedly from his beloved confessor, Fr Carlos Ibarra: ‘Go in peace and sin no more; the Lord has put away your sin. And pray for me, for I am also a sinner’.

The sinfulness of the confessor in no way justifies the sin. Like the words of Jesus to the woman taken in adultery, mercy must always serve righteousness. Which is the other name of God (Jer 23:6).


Guadalupe Shrine hosts A Day Of Prayer For Life on Jan 22 [The Badger Catholic]

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe will host a Day of Prayer for Life Friday, January 22, 2016

If you are unable to participate in the National March for Life in Washington, DC, please consider joining us at the Shrine on this day.

Note – If it is extremely cold, the Pro-Life talk and the Divine Mercy Chaplet will take place in the Church.
Guadalupe Shrine


Maximes on Justice [Siris]

On the maxime as a philosophical genre, and on what I am doing in this post, see here.

Justice is written on pages of mercy.

Law that cannot be a good symbol of true justice is more usurpation than law. Through its code of law a nation not merely organizes itself but presents a symbolic representation of a just society; we judge laws good and bad as a whole based on how well or poorly they depict such a community of just people.

Law does not make one just, but it signifies, and disposes one to, justice.

Mercy is the heart of man and justice is his road.

The means for upholding justice can become means for holding it up.

Fortitude is the protection of justice; temperance prepares one to take joy in justice.

Just as virtue in a person is not merely knowledge, so justice in a society is not merely the knowledge of those who are in charge.

A precondition for justice in society is unity of heart.

The best way to understand the word 'sacred' is ardently to pursue justice.

Maximes on Reason
Maximes on Wisdom


Is the Mercy of Pope Francis Filling Confessionals with Penitents? [LES FEMMES - THE TRUTH]

Not according to an Italian priest who sent a letter to Sandro Magister at Chiesa. Some of its contents are heartbreaking to say the least. Is a "penitent" who reflects no sorrow for sin and has no firm purpose of amendment to avoid sin in the future making a "good confession?" I recommend you read the entire article and entire letter from the priest. I plan to make sacrifices today in atonement for the two "penitents" Father mentions and also for Pope Francis:
"The facts are these. Since the opening of the Holy Year backed by Pope Francis and on the occasion of the Christmas festivities of 2015 - as also since Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been sitting on the throne of Peter - the number of faithful who approach the confessional has not increased.... The trend of a progressive, rapid diminution of the frequency of sacramental reconciliation that has characterized recent decades has not stopped. On the contrary: the confessionals of my church have been largely deserted. 
"I have sought comfort for this bitter consideration by imagining that the basilicas connected to the Holy Year in Rome or in other cities, or the shrines and convents, have been able to attract a larger number of penitents. But a round of phone calls to some fellow priests who regularly hear confessions in these places...has confirmed my observation: lines of penitents that are anything but long, everywhere, [are] even less than at the festivities of past years....
"Distrusting the value of the numbers, because even the salvation of one soul has an infinite value in the eyes of God, I reviewed the 'quality' of the confessions I have heard. ...The picture that presents itself is certainly not a happy one, both concerning the awareness of sin and in reference to the awareness of the prerequisites for obtaining God’s forgiveness.... 
"Two examples stand for all. One middle-aged gentleman whom I asked, with discretion and delicacy, if he had repented of a repeated series of grave sins against the seventh commandment “do not steal,” of which he had accused himself with a certain frivolity and almost joking about the circumstances, certainly not attenuating, that had accompanied them, responded to me with the words of Pope Francis: 'Mercy knows no limits' and by showing surprise that I would remind him of the need for repentance and for the resolution to avoid falling back into the same sin in the future: 'I did what I did. What I will do I will decide when I go from here. What I think about what I have done is a question between me and God. I am here only to have what everyone deserves at least at Christmas: to be able to receive communion at midnight!' And he concluded by paraphrasing the now archfamous expression of Pope Francis: 'Who are you to judge me?' 
"One young lady, to whom I had proposed as an act of penance connected to the sacramental absolution of a grave sin against the fifth commandment 'do not kill' that she kneel in prayer before the Most Holy Sacrament exposed on the altar of a church and perform an act of material charity toward a poor person to the extent of her means, responded to me with annoyance that 'no one must ask for anything in exchange for God’s mercy, because it is free,' and that she had neither the time to stop at a church to pray (she had to 'run around doing Christmas shopping downtown'), nor money to give to the poor ('who don’t even need it that much, because they have more than we do'). 
What grace did these two individuals receive from their "Christmas Communions" preceded by confessions that showed little repentance and little appreciation for the "mercy" they took for granted as their right? "Hey, my sins are no big deal! I'm a good person. Who are you to judge me? God understands." [Perhaps reflection on the sin of presumption is in order.]

Also note that the popular "people's pope" is attracting fewer of the flock with his confusing messages which are greeted enthusiastically by the world, but don't appear to be resonating with the flock. Attendance at weekly audiences and the Angelus addresses is down by half. In Italy as a whole, including his own diocese, the "Bishop of Rome" has overseen a drop from over a third of Italian Catholics attending Mass at least weekly to about a quarter.

Will the latest project of video commercials improve the situation? Not likely. If all religions are the same and we all "believe in God" and "believe in love" regardless of how we express that belief, well...what's the point of being Catholic? Besides, what is there to confess? As long as we "love," whatever that happens to mean to me today, I'm okay. And who, after all, is the priest to judge if the pope doesn't?

The crisis of faith continues enabled by Pope Francis. Let us pray for him daily because, regardless of what we think of him personally, he occupies the chair of Peter with its authority.


Mass-que. Unmasking the spirituality of the Mass. [Catholic Sacristan]

Mass-qued Ball

Let's face it, most celebrations of the Ordinary Form of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass tend to avoid or obscure Catholic Eucharistic piety and elevate an individualistic pipeline spirituality in its place. Many priests, not well formed in a Catholic ritualistic piety, reach toward the consumeristic, me+Jesus piety of evangelical protestantism to guide their preaching and praying (at the Universal Prayer).
Catholic - intimate loving communion with Jesus Christ and His Church
Protestant - personal relationship with Jesus
As Pope Francis reminds us:
In the Church there is no “do it yourself”, there are no “free agents”. How many times did Pope Benedict “describe the Church as an ecclesial ‘we’”! At times one hears someone say: “I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, but I don’t care about the Church...”. How many times have we heard this? And this is not good. There are those who believe they can maintain a personal, direct and immediate relationship with Jesus Christ outside the communion and the mediation of the Church. These are dangerous and harmful temptations. These are, as the great Paul VI said, absurd dichotomies.
Pope Francis, General Audience (section 3), St. Peter's Square, Wednesday, 25 June 2014.

How many priests actually study the forms of the Universal Prayer recommended in the Missal in order to guide their collects at the conclusion of the Prayer? Judging from the typically awkward (improvised) transitions one encounters in most celebrations of the Ordinary Form, the answer to the preceding question would be few if any priests actually embrace a refined Catholic language of prayer. Lacking a Catholic vocabulary saturated with a deep embrace of Eucharistic sacrificial language, many homilies and priestly prayers (other than the presbyteral prayers mandated in the Missal) are trite, banal and distracting. Distracting—because the prayers and invitations to prayer are tacked on to the Mass like a bumper sticker with a tritely worded platitude is tacked on one's car. The problem is, when priests improvise their collects, which is a permitted practice in the rubrics for the Universal Prayer, and improvise transitions to the Creed (which are not necessary), they lack the skill of a true improviser who is fluent in the language of Catholic prayer. If there is anything a priest should be good at is liturgical prayer that makes use of a vocabulary consisting of words belonging to the magnificent treasury of Catholic devotion.

Beauty is as beauty does.

'God hears and answers all prayers offered with a sincere heart.' Actually, God hears all prayers, not just those offered with a sincere heart. The Holy Spirit perfects all prayers. The point is, prayer that is beautiful becomes an occasion for people to emulate the truth and goodness they apprehend in the prayers offered on their behalf. Dull prayers risk turning the Liturgy from a celebration to a mere task little different from doing one's laundry. Beautiful prayers become vehicles of wisdom that form Catholics in authentic prayer and piety. Beautiful prayers invite others to purify their hearts by allowing such prayers to infiltrate the bland recesses of their souls and to rise to the beauty of the Lover of souls, Jesus Christ. Beautiful prayer affirms the goodness of creation, a goodness established by God Who is all good, all truth and all beauty.

Ascending the Mount of Beauty.

The Catholic understanding of spirituality has its "source and summit" in the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Christ Himself has chosen for us the Holy Eucharist as the best way to encounter Him. Who are we to argue with the Lord of Hosts? The Catholic understanding includes the personal and communal dimension of discipleship. The Catholic Christian understanding of discipleship best preserves that sense of communion which flows from and ultimately into the communion of the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

How do we reclaim and proclaim our Catholic Eucharistic piety and grow in authentic holiness, i.e., a holiness that has its origin and culmination in the Cross and Resurrection of Christ rather than mere emotionalism and entertainment (c)hristianity? We hold fast to the teaching of the Church, which is the teaching received from the Apostles, regarding the True Presence. That is, that the wine and bread really and substantially become the Body and Blood of Christ. We consume that Presence. How weirdly inappropriate, then, is it that so many Catholics, as soon as they have received Holy Communion, disappear from the congregation with little prayer offered in thanksgiving for such a magnificent gift?

Holy Communion is the opportunity to allow ourselves to be immersed in the Holy Spirit in order to be immersed in the Holy Trinity. That immersion begins the moment we surrender our weak attempts at a conversation to the silence of God's Presence, a silence wherein God offers his invitation to listen to His Word that He speaks at the centre of every soul docile to the teaching of Christ and His Church. If we fail at silence, God will use other means to attract our attention. Those 'other means' can be disconcerting to the soul who has little immediate room for God's agenda.

Personal faith; public faith. Plan a parade!

Looking ahead in the Church's wonderfully rich liturgical year, the Feast of Corpus Christi (Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ) reminds us how to celebrate authentically the Real Presence of Jesus Christ.

What if the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ was made a holy day of obligation for the Universal Church? Surely such a feast as the celebration of the Bread of Heaven merits the Church's full attention as a day when all Catholics enthusiastically and faithfully celebrate the great Mystery which our Lord and Saviour gave to His Church for her salvation? Perhaps the rest of us should seriously consider following the excellent lead of Indonesia and Lebanon, Mexico, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland in observing Corpus Christi as a holy day of obligation!
Canon 395 §3: (The Bishop) is not to be absent from the diocese on Christmas, during Holy Week, and on Easter, Pentecost, and the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, except for a grave and urgent cause.
In other words, unless for reasons permitted by Canon 395, a bishop should be at home in his diocese to host a Eucharistic procession on the occasion of the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Dear bishops, use your Charter right or lose it. Remind the state and citizens that Catholicism is a personal and public religion that belongs in the public square! Approach your local city council. Apply for a permit to host a parade and bring out all the fineries for Corpus Christi (canopy, monstrance, processional candles and cross, thurible and banners) and bring Christ to the streets! Follow up with Benediction!


The Church is Dominated by an Aberrosexual Clergy [The Eponymous Flower]

Edit: We know people don't like Michael Voris and his Catholic Network TV, and there are legitimate reasons for that, but he and his people continues to be truly brave and say things and attack figures in the hierarchy that many of his detractors don't do. What's more, he AT LEAST is effective.  To many of you, this headline and story isn't news, but many of the actors haven't yet been named, and haven't been called to account for their frankly criminal malfeasance and misrepresentation.

We touched briefly upon this last week with respect to St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, where grieving parents called upon an evil Monastery to change its ways, and we also pointed out that the story didn't get a lot of traction, especially in the kosher Catholic Press.   A few years back when we broke the story that the Abbey was hosting a naked retreat.  The response was pretty impressive from Lifesite, ChurchMilitant and a large number of other bloggers around and about.  As a result, the retreat was cancelled, and the one who planned it, Father Bob Pierson  went on a one year sabbatical to an Anglican Monastery.  [Since then, this aberrosexual enabler has been relocated to another "Benedictine" institution, which underscores the problem in miniature which troubles the Church as a whole throughout the world going up to the very top, including the Pope himself.]

We're  familiar with the story Voris helped circulate about an aberrosexual in the New York Diocese who was living with a similarly afflicted man to the outrage of the laymen of that parish who eventually drove the parasite out of their parish, with Voris' help.

Now this story is taking on broader dimensions as Voris is moving to take on the entire Archdiocese, calling Cardinal Dolan to task:

Here’s the headline: As much as half of priests and bishops in the U.S. may homosexual. Now the details. 
Back in 2000, just as news of the homosexual priest sex abuse crisis was beginning to break, the  Kansas City Star did an in-depth exposé on a horrible topic: the large number of  homosexual priests dying of AIDS. The newspaper's reporting brought to public light, for the first time on this kind of scale, the issue of homosexuality in the priesthood — albeit through the tragic lens of AIDS. 
The newspaper conducted extensive research into the related issues of AIDS and homosexuality within clerical ranks and religious communities. Far from denying the paper's stories, the bishop of Kansas City at the time, Raymond Boland, admitted the findings were true and said, "Much as we would regret it, it shows that human nature is human nature." 
The issue of the AIDS death aside (God rest their souls), it reveals the reality of homosexuality in the ranks of the ordained — and not just its presence, but its overwhelming presence.


Walmart Jesus gets a touchdown [Zippy Catholic]

Jerry Seinfeld once wryly observed that in the context of constant team-swapping among individual players and city-swapping among teams, what we are really rooting for when we cheer for our favorite football team is the clothing worn by the players.

A similar superficiality is at work when right and left liberals cheer for their favorite teams and players in the bread-and-circuses of modern politics.  In modern politics we can’t talk about anything that is actually important in its own right, on its own terms.  In order to have political quiddity at all one must first doff his cap to the king and then light a pinch of incense to Caesar, to the incoherent and immortal doctrine of liberalism which rules over us. To the extent anything important can penetrate the discussion at all it must first be framed in liberal terms. The good, the true, and the beautiful are fine as long as they are packaged, shelved and inventoried for modern man to choose or not choose as he sees fit.

Because liberalism is incoherent the playoffs, I mean elections, and the political circus more generally, become all about lists of preferences: aggregations of long lists of policies, tied together by nothing more than their appeal to different market segments.

That is how most of you, dear readers, will get pulled into the dreary spectacle, become convinced to doff your own caps and, however reluctantly, light your pinches of incense.  I am sure the ruling class has got something in the big basket of preferences which is targeted to appeal to you.


Saint Aelred, Abbot of Rievaulx [Vultus Christi]

St AelredA Saint Full of Sympathy for Physical and Moral Infirmities
Jocelin of Furness, a contemporary of Saint Aelred, gives the following account of the saintly abbot in his Life of St Waldef:

“He was a man of fine old English stock. He left school early and was brought up from boyhood in the court of King David with Henry, the king’s son, and Waldef. In the course of time he became a monk, afterwards abbot of Rievaulx. His school learning was slight, but as a result of careful discipline in the exercise of his acute natural powers, he was cultured above many who had been thoroughly trained in secular learning. He drilled himself in the study of the Holy Scripture and left a lasting memorial behind him in writings distinguished by their lucid style, and wealth of edifying instruction, for he was wholly inspired by a spirit of wisdom and understanding. Moreover, he was a man of the highest integrity, of great practical wisdom, witty and eloquent, a pleasant companion, generous and discreet. And, with all these qualities he exceeded all his fellow prelates of the Church in his patience and tenderness. He was full of sympathy for the infirmities, both physical and moral, of others.”

The photo below shows the ruins of the Abbey of Rievaulx in Yorkshire as they stand today. The Abbey was founded in 1132 at the direction of Saint Bernard. Three of its monks are acclaimed as saints: William, the founding abbot; Aelred, the third abbot; and Waldef, founder of the daughter-house of Melrose.

RievaulxAbbey3.jpgPreface of Saint Aelred, Abbot
Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
Tenderly you drew Saint Aelred
to the school of your service
where, having tasted of the sweetness of your love,
he became the gentle father of many sons,
a merciful shepherd to the weak,
and a model of spiritual friendship.
Inflamed by the love of Christ,
he embraced the Cross as the pattern of monastic conversion,
and so attained the repose of those who love you,
the true and eternal Sabbath of the blessed.
And so, on his feast day, we join with him to adore you,
and with all the company of Angels and Saints,
sing the ageless hymn of your praise:


Waiting for the Culture to Turn [Catholic Answers]

I was reading an aviation magazine. The senior editor contributed a column on “what to do if you bend an airplane.” It was a discussion of the differences between an accident and an incident, the...


Priests Living in Fear of their Bishops [RORATE CÆLI]

A guest op-ed by Tomás Rodríguez (pen name)

A priest recently revealed his belief that the Latin Liturgy prayed ad orientem focuses upon God and not the priest/people. He’s right, but revealing his belief was dangerous because it invited a question. He was asked if he would institute ad orientem worship in his parish. Sadly, he said no, citing lack of catechesis, that it will be poorly received, etc. in defense of this decision. When we know what is right, are we not supposed to do it?

There is a simple fact about catechesis: passing on the Faith requires the utmost care and precision. An ancillary fact is the oft quoted (and hardly ever cited) alleged statement of St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary use words.” If it is truly a question of catechesis and preparing the people for necessary changes, when can we expect to see some action? We do not see much, and when we do there often follows a significant backlash.

This apparent lack of action is a symptom of a much larger problem, namely that priests are being forced to compromise not only their consciences but the Faith itself. Long-winded background explanations about various issues present within the Church today are not necessary. Others have written better and more eloquently on the subject. It suffices to say that one issue in particular is very relevant to the present discussion and that is priestly formation.

There is a famous saying among seminarians, “until the alb and stole hang loose.” In other words, seminarians are told to keep their heads down and their mouths shut until they are ordained. Why would they need to observe such silence? They witness or are part and privy to various abuses and heterodoxy. An environment of fear, not unlike a Communist dictatorship, exists in seminaries that forces otherwise “orthodox” seminarians underground for fear that they will be targeted and not be ordained.

Speaking only within the context of the United States, the system of priestly formation is broken. A man with same-sex attraction and who acted upon these feelings but was thinking about the priesthood once asked a priest about pursuing seminary. The priest instructed this man, “lie.” In other words, the system of formation is so broken that you can take full advantage of it by concealing the truth and get ordained.

Another true story involves a seminarian that left the seminary, in part, because he was persecuted owing to his “pious tendencies” (i.e. kneeling to receive Holy Communion). Why the persecution? “Kneeling is not the norm in the parishes and you have to be obedient to the local Ordinary and Diocesan rules.” The Ordinary’s adherence to the liturgical norms of the Latin Church is never questioned. Bishops hold all power in their Dioceses and whether it is admitted or not, those subject to his authority will not dare to cross him. They fear what will happen to their careers. This rule, however, does not necessarily apply if it is an orthodox Bishop.

It is said that the John Paul II/Benedict XVI generation of priests will “save” the Church from the straits in which she finds herself. This belief presents an untenable myopic vision of the future. The current generation of younger priests has largely been formed by the previous generation that contributed to the dire straits in the first place. What formation has thus been imparted to our newer generation? It would not be wise to do a happy dance and wave our pompoms while singing “the crisis is over” as Ross Douthat recently indicated.

The fact is that new priests get ordained and find the Communistic environment of fear and silence continues in parish life, albeit modified. Now, instead of seminary formators watching them, they have their secret police parish pastor keeping a sharp eye on them. Do not think for a moment these pastors are not keeping tabs on the “young pups” and making reports to authorities at the Diocesan chancery office(s).

A young priest wearing the cassock or a biretta will be a conversation piece at the rectory dining room table, followed by such epithets as “rigid,” “overly conservative,” and the like. Moreover, if he likes to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form, you might as well put the straitjacket on him. In the parlance, these men need to be “broken.” If such tendencies are noted in seminary, they will most likely be assigned to work with a parish priest entrusted (tacitly or overtly) with the task of “breaking” the spirit of the newly-minted priest.

Another form of fear that is used by the pastor is a morbid fear of their comrades the people. In other words, “we do not do ‘X’ here in this parish because it will not go over well with the people” (Read: they will not like me and take their money/resources elsewhere). This line of thinking is based upon human respect, which is a condemned practice in the spiritual life, for “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Human respect has a vicious tendency to neglect the saving truths (and pursuant ways of action) of Christ that lead us to heaven. In the case at hand, a practice (ad orientem) that directs people specifically to the worship of God as opposed to focusing upon man is being neglected because “the people” will not tolerate it. Who is the custodian of the Truths of God and His holy Church here, the priest or the people?

One can certainly understand in the light of the current state of affairs that restoring ad orientem worship of Almighty God would be an uphill battle, one that requires the greatest of caution and care. Few priests, however, are climbing that hill and we need to pray for them. They are horribly brutalized by their respective Dioceses and this is an understatement. In seminary formation, they are socialized or conditioned to fear things like Latin and tradition.

In one case known to this writer, a group of women ran a priest out of a parish by complaining to his Diocese using the right key words to the authorities. This priest did nothing except what he was supposed to be doing as a priest, bring the tradition to the people (Latin, Chant, etc.). He now serves in a parish out in the boonies that is usually assigned to priests who experience troubles with the bottle or pornography. It is unjust, and while such atrocities make saints and are a sign of God’s favor, we must never think that it is acceptable for Ordinaries to persecute their priests as such (i.e. to do evil that good may come about).

Priests are forced to compromise their mission because they do not want to “jeopardize their priesthood” (to use their expression). Let us remember that a priest is a priest. One’s priesthood (in se) is not necessarily jeopardized. It is his ability to exercise the ministry which is at stake. His Ordinary can restrict the priest’s faculties by making him have as little an influence as the Ordinary is canonically able to do (nursing homes and boonie-parishes being likely options).

Priests are charged with the care of souls. It is by their hand that a person will experience heaven or hell. At the priest’s own judgment, he will stand before the Rex tremendae maiestatis—the King of tremendous majesty—where there are no excuses. Only the truth of his life and how he served Christ the King are what matters. Those dreaded words ought to give pause, namely “Depart from Me, ye accursed, for I knew ye not...” (Matthew 7:23).

The above fact of the priesthood ought to instill the deepest of fear and dread in priests and the bishops who shepherd them. Sadly, it does not. Many priests know what transpires in their respective chancery offices and among their brother priests. They live in fear of what will happen to them should they speak out. Those who do are made martyrs and the fullest extent of the law, abuse and scare tactics are applied to them by the authorities. Meanwhile, fornicating priests, porn-addicts and sodomites are all protected or given passes.

There is a very real dark and satanic subculture among the presbyterate and episcopacy in the United States. We need to pray for our priests, especially those for whom God has chosen to give the special grace of suffering persecution for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. These priests may not be recognized by the powers that be for the good priests that they are, but they are true pastors of the Church. To these priests, know that you are not overlooked. While people may not know and recognize you en masse in this life, God sees and His grace will be your comfort.

"Now We Hear Rachel, Weeping For Her Children" – In "State of the World," Pope Sounds Old Testament "Cry" For Refugees [Whispers in the Loggia]

Beginning the Vatican's work-cycle for 2016, per tradition, this first day after Christmas brought the annual exchange of New Year's greetings between the Pope and the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, long the occasion for what's come to be known as the pontiff's "State of the World" speech.

With 180 countries currently enjoying full bilateral relations with the Holy See – that is, the central government of the Catholic Church, not the city-state in which it's headquartered – the Vatican assignment is seen as a crucial "listening post" by no shortage of nations, regardless of their religious makeup, given both the "soft power" of the worldwide church as a moral arbiter and influence for its 1.2 billion members and beyond, as well as Rome's status as the de facto global hub of the Catholic networks of health care, education, humanitarian aid and other social services which extend to every corner of the planet, often more effectively than any secular NGO.

Beyond the usual state of things, the last three years have seen an uptick of activity – or, for those with long memories, a return to the "glory days" of the Iron Curtain era – as the activist foreign policy kicked into gear by Pope Francis, coupled with his high-octane advocacy on behalf of marginalized and suffering peoples, has again made the Vatican an unavoidable voice in the geopolitical conversation.

Following 2014's clinching in Rome of the watershed deal that began to ease a half-century impasse between the Cuban and US governments, last year saw the Pope's diplo-crew – led by his formidable, hand-picked Secretary of State, now Cardinal Pietro Parolin – again parachuting in to lend a hand on two key fronts: Europe's response to the tidal wave influx of Middle Eastern refugees (the continent's largest movement of a population since World War II), and the global "framework" talks on climate change last month in Paris at which, according to some reports, Francis & Co. were quietly involved in smoothing out the final agreement. (The climate summit likewise motivated the Pope's timeframe for June's release of his eco-cyclical, Laudato Si'.)

In other diplomatic briefs, one last quick look forward and another behind. First, with its initial plans scuttled due to November's Paris terror attacks on the eve of their slated meeting, later this month the Pope will reportedly receive the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for the first sit-down between a Roman pontiff and head of the Islamic Republic since 1999, all against the backdrop of ongoing debate over the West's nuclear deal with the country (which Francis referenced today among other causes of "solid hope for the future").

Glancing back to one of 2015's more turbulent moments, meanwhile, today's "State of the World" marked Francis' first meeting with the ambassadors since the Holy See's move last spring to decline France's proposed Vatican envoy, Laurent Stefanini, with indications of the nominee's homosexuality widely cited as the reason. As a general rule, the Holy See will not extend its agrément (diplomatic clearance) to any proffered ambassador whose public life isn't in conformity with church teaching, with civilly remarried divorcees and cohabiting straight diplomats having met similar fates in the past as an exercise of sovereign prerogative. While it subsequently emerged that Pope quietly met with Stefanini amid the contretemps, the decision held and, nearly a year later, the French Embassy's lead post remains vacant.

A combination of 2015 travelogue and spin of the globe touching on most of these themes – and, indeed, even the "dramatic situation" at the Mexico-US border, which he'll be visiting this time next month – below the jump (click link) is the official English translation of the Pope's speech today: one which, in a departure from his predecessors, Francis delivers not in the standard diplomatic language of French, but Italian.....

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I offer you a cordial welcome to this annual gathering. It allows me to offer you my best wishes for the New Year and to reflect with you on the state of our world, so loved and blessed by God, and yet fraught with so many ills. I thank your new Dean, His Excellency Armindo Fernandes do Espírito Santo Veira, the Ambassador of Angola, for his kind greeting in the name of the entire Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. In a special way, I would also like to remember the late Ambassadors of Cuba, Rodney Alejandro López Clemente, and Liberia, Rudolf P. von Ballmoos, both of whom left us in this past month.

This occasion also allows me to offer a particular word of welcome to those of you who join us for the first time. I note with satisfaction that the number of resident Ambassadors in Rome has increased over the past year. This is an important sign of the interest with which the international community follows the diplomatic activity of the Holy See, as for that matter are the international agreements signed or ratified in the course of this last year. Here I would mention the specific fiscal agreements reached with Italy and the United States of America, reflecting the increased commitment of the Holy See to greater transparency in economic matters. No less important are the more general agreements aimed at regulating essential aspects of the Church’s life and activity in different countries, such as the agreement sealed in Dili with the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

At the same time, I would like to mention the exchange of instruments of ratification of the agreement with Chad on the juridical status of the Catholic Church in that country, as well as the agreement signed and ratified with Palestine. These two agreements, together with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariat of State and the Foreign Affairs Minister of Kuwait, demonstrate, among other things, how peaceful co-existence between the followers of different religions is possible when religious freedom is recognized and practical cooperation in the pursuit of the common good, in a spirit of respect for the cultural identity of all parties, is effectively guaranteed.

For that matter, every authentic practice of religion cannot fail to promote peace. Our recent celebration of Christmas reminds us of this: we contemplated the birth of a vulnerable child who is “named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (cf. Is 9:5). The mystery of the Incarnation shows us the real face of God, for whom power does not mean force or destruction but love, and for whom justice is not vengeance but mercy. It is in light of this that I wished to proclaim the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, exceptionally inaugurated in Bangui during my Apostolic Journey in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. In a country sorely tried by hunger, poverty and conflict, where fratricidal violence in recent years has left deep wounds, rending the nation and creating material and moral destitution, the opening of the Holy Door of Bangui Cathedral was meant as a sign of encouragement to look ahead, to set out anew and resume dialogue. There, where God’s name has been misused to perpetrate injustice, I wanted to reaffirm, together with the Muslim community of the Central African Republic, that “those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace” and consequently of mercy, for one may never kill in the name of God. Only a distorted ideological form of religion can think that justice is done in the name of the Almighty by deliberately slaughtering defenceless persons, as in the brutal terrorist attacks which occurred in recent months in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Mercy was the common thread linking my Apostolic Journeys in the course of the past year. This was the case above all with my visit to Sarajevo, a city deeply scarred by the war in the Balkans and the capital of a country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is uniquely significant for Europe and the entire world. As a crossroads of cultures, nations and religions, it is working successfully to build new bridges, to encourage those things which unite, and to see differences as opportunities for growth in respect for all. This is possible thanks to a patient and trusting dialogue capable of embracing the values of each culture and accepting the good which comes from the experience of others.

I think too of my Journey to Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay, where I encountered peoples who have not given up in the face of difficulties, and who are facing with courage, determination and solidarity their many challenges, beginning with widespread poverty and social inequality. During my Journey to Cuba and the United States of America, I was able to embrace two countries which were long divided and which have decided to write a new page of history, embarking on the path of closer ties and reconciliation.

In Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, during my Journey to Sri Lanka and to the Philippines, and more recently with the Synod of Bishops, I reaffirmed the centrality of the family, which is the first and most important school of mercy, in which we learn to see God’s loving face and to mature and develop as human beings. Sadly, we recognize the numerous challenges presently facing families, “threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life”. Today there is a widespread fear of the definitive commitment demanded by the family; those who pay the price are the young, who are often vulnerable and uncertain, and the elderly, who end up being neglected and abandoned. On the contrary, “out of the family’s experience of fraternity is born solidarity in society”, which instils in us a sense of responsibility for others. This is possible only if, in our homes and our societies, we refuse to allow weariness and resentment to take root, but instead make way for dialogue, which is the best antidote to the widespread individualism of today’s culture.

Dear Ambassadors,

An individualistic spirit is fertile soil for the growth of that kind of indifference towards our neighbours which leads to viewing them in purely economic terms, to a lack of concern for their humanity, and ultimately to feelings of fear and cynicism. Are these not the attitudes we often adopt towards the poor, the marginalized and the “least” of society? And how many of these “least” do we have in our societies! Among them I think primarily of migrants, with their burden of hardship and suffering, as they seek daily, often in desperation, a place to live in peace and dignity.

Today, then, I would like to reflect with you on the grave crisis of migration which we are facing, in order to discern its causes, to consider possible solutions, and to overcome the inevitable fears associated with this massive and formidable phenomenon, which in 2015 has mainly concerned Europe, but also various regions of Asia and North and Central America.

“Be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Jos 1:9). This is the promise which God makes to Joshua, revealing his concern for every person, but particularly those in precarious situations such as people seeking refuge in a foreign country. The Bible as a whole recounts the history of a humanity on the move, for mobility is part of our human nature. Human history is made up of countless migrations, sometimes out of an awareness of the right to choose freely, and often dictated by external circumstances. From the banishment from Eden to Abraham’s journey to the promised land, from the Exodus story to the deportation to Babylon, sacred Scripture describes the struggles and sufferings, the desires and hopes, which are shared by the hundreds of thousands of persons on the move today, possessed of the same determination which Moses had to reach a land flowing with “milk and honey” (cf. Ex 3:17), a land of freedom and peace.

Now as then, we hear Rachel weeping for her children who are no more (cf. Jer 31:15; Mt 2:18). Hers is the plea of thousands of people who weep as they flee horrific wars, persecutions and human rights violations, or political or social instability, which often make it impossible for them to live in their native lands. It is the outcry of those forced to flee in order to escape unspeakable acts of cruelty towards vulnerable persons, such as children and the disabled, or martyrdom solely on account of their religion.

Now as then, we hear Jacob saying to his sons: “Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die” (Gen 42:2). His is the voice of all those who flee extreme poverty, inability to feed their families or to receive medical care and education, hopeless squalor or the effects of climate change and extreme weather conditions. Sadly, we know that hunger continues to be one of the gravest banes of our world, leading to the death of millions of children every year. It is painful to realize, however, that often these migrants are not included in international systems of protection based on international agreements.

How can we not see in all this the effects of that “culture of waste” which endangers the human person, sacrificing men and women before the idols of profit and consumption? It is a grievous fact that we grow so inured to such situations of poverty and need, to these tragedies affecting so many lives, that they appear “normal”. Persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected, especially when poor or disabled, or “not yet useful” – like the unborn, or “no longer needed” – like the elderly. We have grown indifferent to all sorts of waste, starting with the waste of food, which is all the more deplorable when so many individuals and families suffer hunger and malnutrition.

The Holy See trusts that, amid today’s sad context of conflicts and disasters, the First World Humanitarian Summit, convened by the United Nations for May 2016, will succeed in its goal of placing the person and human dignity at the heart of every humanitarian response. What is needed is a common commitment which can decisively turn around the culture of waste and lack of respect for human life, so that no one will feel neglected or forgotten, and that no further lives will be sacrificed due to the lack of resources and, above all, of political will.

Sadly, now as then, we hear the voice of Judah who counsels selling his own brother (cf. Gen 37:26-27). His is the arrogance of the powerful who exploit the weak, reducing them to means for their own ends or for strategic and political schemes. Where regular migration is impossible, migrants are often forced to turn to human traffickers or smugglers, even though they are aware that in the course of their journey they may well lose their possessions, their dignity and even their lives. In this context I once more appeal for an end to trafficking in persons, which turns human beings, especially the weakest and most defenceless, into commodities. The image of all those children who died at sea, victims of human callousness and harsh weather, will remain forever imprinted on our minds and hearts. Those who survive and reach a country which accepts them bear the deep and indelible scars of these experiences, in addition to those left by the atrocities which always accompany wars and violence.

Now as then, we hear the angel say: “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you” (Mt 2:13). His is the voice heard by many migrants who would never have left their homeland had they not been forced to. Among these are many Christians who in great numbers have abandoned their native lands these past years, despite the fact that they have dwelt there from the earliest days of Christianity.

Finally, we also hear today the voice of the Psalmist: “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion” (Ps 137:1). His is the cry of those who would readily return to their own country, if only there they could find adequate conditions of security and sustenance. Here too my thoughts turn to the Christians of the Middle East, who desire to contribute fully as citizens to the spiritual and material well-being of their respective nations.

Many of the causes of migration could have been addressed some time ago. So many disasters could have been prevented, or at least their harshest effects mitigated. Today too, before it is too late, much could be done to end these tragedies and to build peace. But that would mean rethinking entrenched habits and practices, beginning with issues involving the arms trade, the provision of raw materials and energy, investment, policies of financing and sustainable development, and even the grave scourge of corruption. We all know, too, that with regard to migration there is a need for mid-term and long-term planning which is not limited to emergency responses. Such planning should include effective assistance for integrating migrants in their receiving countries, while also promoting the development of their countries of origin through policies inspired by solidarity, yet not linking assistance to ideological strategies and practices alien or contrary to the cultures of the peoples being assisted.

Without overlooking other dramatic situations – in this regard, I think particularly of the border between Mexico and the United States of America, which I will be near when I visit Ciudad Juárez next month – my thoughts turn in a special way to Europe. Over the past year Europe has witnessed a great wave of refugees – many of whom died in the attempt – a wave unprecedented in recent history, not even after the end of the Second World War. Many migrants from Asia and Africa see in Europe a beacon for principles such as equality before the law and for values inherent in human nature, including the inviolable dignity and equality of every person, love of neighbour regardless of origin or affiliation, freedom of conscience and solidarity towards our fellow men and women.

All the same, the massive number of arrivals on the shores of Europe appear to be overburdening the system of reception painstakingly built on the ashes of the Second World War, a system that is still an acknowledged beacon of humanity. Given the immense influx and the inevitable problems it creates, a number of questions have be raised about the real possibilities for accepting and accommodating people, about changes in the cultural and social structures of the receiving countries, and about the reshaping of certain regional geopolitical balances. Equally significant are fears about security, further exacerbated by the growing threat of international terrorism. The present wave of migration seems to be undermining the foundations of that “humanistic spirit” which Europe has always loved and defended. Yet there should be no loss of the values and principles of humanity, respect for the dignity of every person, mutual subsidiarity and solidarity, however much they may prove, in some moments of history, a burden difficult to bear. I wish, then, to reaffirm my conviction that Europe, aided by its great cultural and religious heritage, has the means to defend the centrality of the human person and to find the right balance between its twofold moral responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens and to ensure assistance and acceptance to migrants.

Here I likewise feel obliged to express gratitude for all initiatives aimed at providing a dignified reception to these persons; I think, for example, of the Migrant and Refugee Fund of the Council of Europe Development Bank, and the generous solidarity shown by a number of countries. I also have in mind the nations neighbouring Syria, which have responded immediately with help and acceptance, especially Lebanon, where refugees make up a fourth of the total population, and Jordan, which has not closed its borders despite the fact that it already harbours hundreds of thousands of refugees. Nor should we overlook the efforts made by other countries in the front lines, especially Turkey and Greece. I wish to express particular gratitude to Italy, whose decisive commitment has saved many lives in the Mediterranean, and which continues to accept responsibility on its territory for a massive number of refugees. It is my hope that the traditional sense of hospitality and solidarity which distinguishes the Italian people will not be weakened by the inevitable difficulties of the moment, but that, in light of its age-old tradition, the nation may prove capable of accepting and integrating the social, economic and cultural contribution which migrants can offer.

It is important that nations in the forefront of meeting the present emergency not be left alone, and it is also essential to initiate a frank and respectful dialogue among all the countries involved in the problem – countries of origin, transit, or reception - so that, with greater boldness and creativity, new and sustainable solutions can be sought. As things presently stand, there is no place for autonomous solutions pursued by individual states, since the consequences of the decisions made by each inevitably have repercussions on the entire international community. Indeed, migrations, more then ever before, will play a pivotal role in the future of our world, and our response can only be the fruit of a common effort respectful of human dignity and the rights of persons. The Development Agenda adopted last September by the United Nations for the next fifteen years, which deals with many of the problems causing migration, and other documents of the international community on handling the issue of migration, will be able to find application consistent with expectations if they are able to put the person at the centre of political decisions at every level, seeing humanity as one family, and all people as brothers and sisters, with respect for mutual differences and convictions of conscience.

In facing the issue of migrations, one cannot overlook its cultural implications, beginning with those linked to religious affiliation. Extremism and fundamentalism find fertile soil not only in the exploitation of religion for purposes of power, but also in the vacuum of ideals and the loss of identity – including religious identity – which dramatically marks the so-called West. This vacuum gives rise to the fear which leads to seeing the other as a threat and an enemy, to closed-mindedness and intransigence in defending preconceived notions. The phenomenon of migration raises a serious cultural issue which necessarily demands a response. The acceptance of migrants can thus prove a good opportunity for new understanding and broader horizons, both on the part of those accepted, who have the responsibility to respect the values, traditions and laws of the community which takes them in, and on the part of the latter, who are called to acknowledge the beneficial contribution which each immigrant can make to the whole community. In this context, the Holy See reaffirms its commitment in the ecumenical and interreligious sectors to inaugurating a sincere and respectful dialogue which, by valuing the distinctness and identity of each individual, can foster a harmonious coexistence among all the members of society.

Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

2015 witnessed the conclusion of important international agreements, which give solid hope for the future. I think first of the so-called Iran nuclear deal, which I hope will contribute to creating a climate of détente in the region, as well as the reaching of the long-awaited agreement on climate at the Paris Conference. This significant accord represents for the entire international community an important achievement; it reflects a powerful collective realization of the grave responsibility incumbent on individuals and nations to protect creation, to promote a “culture of care which permeates all of society”. It is now essential that those commitments prove more than simply a good intention, but rather a genuine duty incumbent on all states to do whatever is needed to safeguard our beloved earth for the sake of all mankind, especially generations yet to come.

For its part, the year which has just begun promises to be full of challenges and more than a few tensions have already appeared on the horizon. I think above all of the serious disagreements which have arisen in the Persian Gulf region, as well as the disturbing military test conducted on the Korean peninsula. It is my hope that these conflicts will be open to the voice of peace and a readiness to seek agreements. Here I note with satisfaction of certain significant and particularly encouraging gestures. I think especially of the climate of peaceful coexistence in which the recent elections in the Central African Republic were held; these are a positive sign of the will to persevere on the path to full national reconciliation. I also think of the new initiatives under way in Cyprus to heal a long-standing division, and to the efforts being made by the Colombian people to leave behind past conflicts and to attain the long-awaited peace. All of us look with hope to the important steps made by the international community to achieve a political and diplomatic solution of the crisis in Syria, one which can put a long overdue end to the sufferings of the population. The signals coming from Libya are likewise encouraging and offer the hope of a renewed commitment to ending violence and reestablishing the country’s unity. On the other hand, it appears increasingly evident that only a common and agreed political action will prove able to stem the spread of extremism and fundamentalism, which spawn terrorist acts which reap countless victims, not only in Syria and Libya, but in other countries like Iraq and Yemen.

May this Holy Year of Mercy also be the occasion of dialogue and reconciliation aimed at consolidating the common good in Burundi, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in South Sudan. Above all, may it be a favourable time for definitively ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Of fundamental importance is the support which the international community, individual states and humanitarian organizations can offer the country from a number of standpoints, in order to surmount the present crisis.

Yet the greatest challenge we face is that of overcoming indifference and working together for peace, which remains a good which must constantly be sought. Sadly, among the many parts of our beloved world which long fervently for peace, there is the land for which God showed a particular love and chose to show to all the face of his mercy. I pray that this new year can heal the deep wounds dividing Israelis and Palestinians, and enable the peaceful coexistence of two peoples who – of this I am sure – in the depths of their heart ask only for peace!

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On the diplomatic level, the Holy See will never cease its efforts to enable the message of peace to be heard to the ends of the earth. I thus reiterate the complete readiness of the Secretariat of State to cooperate with you in favouring constant dialogue between the Apostolic See and the countries which you represent, for the benefit of the entire international community. I am certain that this Jubilee year will be a favourable occasion for the cold indifference of so many hearts to be won over by the warmth of mercy, that precious gift of God which turns fear into love and makes us artisans of peace. With these sentiments I renew to each of you, to your families and your countries, my heartfelt good wishes for a blessed New Year.

Thank you.


[1] Meeting with the Muslim Community, Bangui, 30 November 2015.
2 Cf. Meeting with Authorities, Sarajevo, 6 June 2015.
3 Meeting with Families, Manila, 16 January 2015.
4Meeting with Political, Economic and Civic Leaders, Quito, 7 July 2015.
5 Cf. General Audience, 5 June 2013.
6 Cf. Address to the European Parliament, Strasburg, 25 November 2015.
7 Ibid.
8 Encyclical Laudato Si’, 231.
9 Cf. Overcome Indifference and Win Peace, Message for the 2015 World Day of Peace (8 December 2015)


Benedetto XVI: c'è una stretta correlazione tra il Battesimo di Cristo ed il nostro Battesimo, 7 gennaio 2007 (YouTube) [Il Blog di Raffaella. Riflessioni e commenti fra gli Amici di Benedetto XVI]

LINK DIRETTO SU YOUTUBE Buona settimana, Amici! Grazie a Gemma riascoltiamo Papa Benedetto parlare del Battesimo del Signore. Il 7 gennaio 2007, nell'intervento prima della recita dell'Angelus, Benedetto XVI parlò del Battesimo del Signore. Il testo integrale è consultabile qui. In particolare: "si celebra oggi la festa del Battesimo del Signore, che chiude il tempo del Natale. La liturgia


Torquemada on Schismatic Popes [The Eponymous Flower]

Edit: yes, he was the uncle of Tomas Torquemada O.P..  He was no Conciliarist, either.

Further "the Pope could, without doubt, fall into Schism . . . Especially is this true with regard to the divine liturgy, as for example, if he did not wish personally to follow the universal customs and rites of the Church. . . . Thus it is that Innocent states (De Consuetudine) that, it is necessary to obey a Pope in all things as long as he does not himself go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, he need not be followed . . ." - Cardinal Juan de Torqumada O.P; Commentarii in Decretum Gratiani (1519) and Summa de Ecclesia (1489).

Img; wikicommons


Tridentine [Siris]

In the Maronite calendar today happens to be the Memorial of the Holy Ecumenical Council of Trent. It's a minor memorial (I believe it uses the Saturday from Week A of Pentecost), but I thought I'd put up something from the Council to mark the day. From the Eighteenth Session:

The holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding, not confiding in human strength but relying on the power and support of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has promised to give to His Church a mouth and wisdom, has in view above all to restore to its purity and splendor the doctrine of the Catholic faith, which in many places has become defiled and obscured by the opinions of many differing among themselves, and to bring back to a better mode of life morals which have deviated from ancient usage, and to turn the heart of the fathers unto the children, and the heart of the children unto the fathers.

[The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, H. J. Schroeder, tr., TAN (Rockford, Illinois: 1978), p. 126.]


Feministische Kampagne #ausnahmslos ignoriert Prostitution und Pornografie [Mathias von Gersdorff]

Die heute ins Leben gerufene Twitter-Kampagne mit dem Hashtag #ausnahmslos ignoriert eine der wichtigsten Ursache von (sexueller) Gewalt gegen Frauen: Prostitution und Pornografie.Wer ausnahmslos sexuelle Gewalt bekämpfen will, und zwar weltweit, muss mit der Bekämpfung von Prostitution anfangen, denn der größte Teil der Frauen, die in die Prostitution fallen, erleiden Gewalt. Außerdem treibt


The Years of Lyndon Johnson (10) [The Paraphasic]


The third volume of Robert Caro's Years of Lyndon Johnson is the longest of the four published to date (including notes, it spans 1191 pages).  This volume deals with ten of Johnson's twelve years in the United States Senate (1949 – 1958).  Johnson's tenure as Leader of the Senate Democrats seems to represent to Caro the one of the apexes of Johnson's political life, a time when his unique talents were perfectly suited to the office he held, and his personality was able to do the most to transform political institutions into instruments of personal power.  Master of the Senate is an incredible book, not only for the reason shared by all the volumes of this series — because it is a compelling and finely detailed biographical narrative — but also because it paints a portrait of the United States Senate as one of the great moderating institutions of the United States Government, an element of aristocratic oligarchy which preserved the American democracy from the violent tides of public opinion and offered a conservative bulwark for the interests of minorities against those of the states with the most people and money.  This volume stands on its own as an incredible study in the purpose and operations of the Senate.


The first hundred pages of Master of the Senate are about the Senate itself.  Caro gives an outline of the Senate's history, focusing on the peculiarities of the institution, its governing ethos, and the major controversies and personalities that have occupied its attention since 1789.  The Senate was envisioned by the founders as a moderating force in the national legislature.  Because elections are held for all the seats in the House of Representatives every two years, and because representation in the House is proportional to the population of a given region, the House tends to be more sensitive to the chaotic motions of public opinion, and more subject to the imprudence of the masses.  The Senate was designed to counterbalance both the instability of the House and its inherent populism, being made up of fewer delegates, appointed by state governments (and therefore not popularly elected), for long, six-year terms.  Additionally, because representation in the Senate is equal for each of the individual states, regional minorities are given a stronger voice, making it possible for states with smaller populations to resist objectionable legislation from larger states — legislation which would pass easily in the House.

Of course, the issues of slavery and race relations were the central regional controversy in the United States for most of its first two centuries, meaning that the Southern States — which were in the minority by population — depended on the Senate for protection against Northern intervention.  Thus the Senate was, until the 1960s, traditionally associated with the North-South divide in the U. S., and its peculiar features functioned as a shield for white southern interests.  The Senate was the South, and many of the great political crises of the 1800s are simply battles over control of the Senate, and the protection it guaranteed to the South.  (In time, the West would join the South, not in its racist politics, but in its concern for the protection of regional minorities against the power of the large eastern states.)

The chief distinguishing peculiarity of the Senate as a legislative body is its lack of a rule limiting debate.  The fact that at any point during the legislative process the floor can be taken and held (and held, and held...) by one or several Senators intent upon preventing a piece of legislation from proceeding to a vote, swings the structural politics of the Senate even further in favor of minorities, and makes it an extremely powerful conservative force.  Until the introduction of cloture (through which debate could be terminated by a 2/3s majority vote) in 1917, a small minority of senators could coordinate to thwart the progress of a bill offensive to them, obstructing the legislative process until the urgency of other business prompted the Senate to drop the offending measure and move on.  Even after cloture was introduced, the filibuster was seen as sacred to many Senators from the South and West, and held as a safeguard to protect the unique interests of their states from interference.  After 1917, the 2/3s majority became the crucial question in any sufficiently controversial measure, and the vote for cloture was less a matter of party loyalty than desire to protect the filibuster.

The other distinguishing feature of the Senate, especially in the first half of the twentieth century, was its strict adherence to a seniority system and lack of unitary leadership.  Seniority, coupled with long terms and high rates of re-election, added to the conservatism of the Senate.  Caro describes the legislative body as an extremely solemn club for old men, a gerontocracy.  One would be assigned to a committee upon taking office, and stay on that committee, possibly for decades.  All power in the senate regarding legislation was held by the committee chairmen, who were the oldest men in the room, and who administered committee business.

I am not doing Caro's portrait of the Senate justice here, but I will conclude as he does with a few notes on the role of the South.  In the century after 1876, when the post-war period of reconstruction ended, the main concern of the South in national government was to protect a racist social arrangement from interference from the North.  Because the destruction of the South's strong grip on the Senate, and the end of the racist social settlement was one of the main achievements of Johnson's political career, Caro plays the issue up, and gives it some drama.  Civil rights legislation was not an invention of the 1950s and 1960s.  Northerners had been trying to pass civil rights laws since the Civil War, and (aside from the first ten years following the conflict) had failed continuously.  Caro lays responsibility for this fact on the high rates of re-election among southern senators, and their mastery of Senate procedure, and ability to use that mastery ruthlessly to outwit and outmaneuver their opponents.

Much more could be said about Part One, which contains a large quantity of condensed history, but I will end my summary here.


Ordo muss sein [Denzinger-Katholik]

Es gibt übrigens nicht nur liturgische Wandkalender für das angebrochene Jahr, sondern auch schon längst einen Ordo bzw. ein Direktorium oder Kalendarium von Una Voce Deutschland für Brevier und Missale nach geltenden Rubriken von 1960. Bestellt werden kann er über die Seite (runterscrollen!). Sparsame und Umweltempfindliche können ihn auch gleich als PDF herunterladen.
Was allerdings nur zahlende Kunden (und alle Leser dieser Seite) sehen, ist das eingeklebte Andachtsbildchen, welches eine mittelalterliche Illumination aus dem Fuldaer Sakramentar zeigt:


Let's make no mistake... [Oz Conservative]

I took a look at two leading feminist websites, Jezebel and Feministe, to see if they thought events in Cologne were worth a mention. Jezebel has finally posted a very brief link to a BBC report (on January 10th, so about 5 days after everyone else); nothing yet from Feministe. But I got a laugh out of Feministe, from this post about Donald Trump:

I thought I hated that @#! twenty years ago when he was just an egomaniacal racist magnate. Little did I know he was also a fascist waiting for the right moment to bloom. And let’s make no mistake. I don’t throw the word “fascist” around lightly.

I think this writer studied the following text a little too closely:


The universal permission slip [Zippy Catholic]

Modernity is characterized by a whole array of incoherent doctrines: liberalism, positivism, nominalism, feminism, materialism, relativism, financial anti-realism, etc.

It is technically impossible to say what a person committed to an incoherent doctrine should and should not do based on that commitment. An incoherent doctrine provides layers of intellectual rationalization for whatever the person committed to it happens to prefer — what he happens to prefer for reasons extrinsic to the doctrine. Incoherent doctrines create an illusion of being in the moral right, a structure of arguments and reasons which propose to justify whatever a person’s preferences happen to be independent of the incoherent doctrine itself.

This is a significant reason why incoherent doctrines are so popular.  They make it possible to argue, at least superficially, that the good, the true, and the beautiful are equivalent to whatever preferences we happen to have. Incoherent doctrines destroy objective values and replace them with whatever our preferences happen to be.

Now sometimes we have good preferences and sometimes we have bad or objectively disordered preferences.  Rather than examining the coherence of a doctrine used to rationalize those preferences, we prefer (ahem) to characterize people who rationalize what we perceive to be bad preferences as having an inauthentic commitment to the doctrine.



"How to be a Liberal in Lower Alabama" [The Paraphasic]

The New York Times published an amusing column today from a liberal democrat in Alabama, talking about the difficulties of living as a liberal democrat in a social environment where everyone comfortably assumes you agree that liberal democrats are stupid or morally suspect.

"In some ways, [the conflict between liberals and conservatives has] the same story everywhere. But it feels different when you’re in the small, embattled minority. There’s a proud tradition of Southern liberalism, with some willing to take the heat at any cost, but given that people these days can be downright mean, ever more of my left-leaning friends prefer to express their convictions only when marking the ballot."
What I enjoy about the article is the extent to which everything in it is true in reverse for urban conservatives.  I know people who match the uncomfortable silence the author describes perfectly, but because they're religious conservatives living in a comfortably liberal Chicago.  I have been one of those people, many times.


Neutrale Medien braucht das Land [katholon]

Nach Köln ist vor der nächsten Katastrophe. Doch nach Köln bedeutet auch einen Bruch. Es gab einen Bruch in der Medienwelt und einen Vertrauensbruch gegenüber dem öffentlich-rechtlichen System.

FuBK-Testbild Grafik: Rotkaeppchen68 Quelle: Wikimedia Lizenz: CC-BY-SA-3.0

Grafik: Rotkaeppchen68
Quelle: Wikimedia
Lizenz: CC-BY-SA-3.0

Während man vor dem 31.12.2015 etwas verächtlich auf alle herab schaute, die das böse Wort „Lügenpresse“ in den Wort nahmen, hat das Mißtrauen gegenüber den Medien jetzt einen Quantensprung gemacht. Insbesondere die öffentlich-rechtlichen Sender und hier ganz herausragend das ZDF haben deutlich an Glaubwürdigkeit verloren. Wer sich jetzt noch ausschließlich auf deren Nachrichtensendungen verläßt, ist schlicht zu bemitleiden. Geradezu lächerlich wirkte der Versuch, noch am 4.1.2016 einen Bericht über die Horrornacht von Köln aus der Hauptnachrichtensendung „heute“ rauszuhalten. In Zeiten sozialer Medien ein Unding. Man hat das auch beim ZDF bemerkt und entschuldigte sich auf Facebook dafür.

Es macht an dieser Stelle wenig Sinn, den Medienskandal, der der schrecklichen Silvesternacht folgte noch einmal aufzurollen. Es gilt den Blick nach vorne zu werfen. Brauchen wir gebührenfinanzierte Medien, die uns unzureichend informieren und deren Grundversorgungsauftrag scheinbar ein Umerziehungsauftrag ist. Als Schüler haben wir einmal gelernt, was der Unterschied zwischen Staatsfernsehen und öffentlich-rechtlichem Rundfunk ist. Man erinnere sich daran. Der Vorteil eines öffentlich-rechtlichen Sendersystems ist seine Unabhängigkeit von der jeweiligen Regierung. Obwohl die politischen Parteien Einfluß nehmen können, findet eine Beschränkung dieses Einflusses durch die Partizipation anderer gesellschaftlicher Gruppen statt. Ein solches System funktioniert genau so lange, wie es divergierende Interessenlagen der partizipierenden gesellschaftlichen Gruppen gibt. Übernimmt ein allgemeiner Mainstream eine Gesellschaft, muß ein öffentlich-rechtliches System versagen. In diesem Falle kann es sogar noch schlechter sein, als ein Staatsfernsehen. Bei letzterem weiß man um dessen Parteilichkeit, während beim öff-rechtl. Sender doch immer noch ein Vertrauensvorschuß auf dessen Neutralität existiert.

Schon lange hatten Kritiker die politische Eindimensionalität der öff.-rechtl. Medienlandschaft beklagt. Insider wußten längst um manipulative Auswahl von Themen, Gesprächspartnern und Sprachregelungen. Wer sich in den vorwiegend linksgrünen Mainstream nicht einfügen will, wird ausgegrenzt. Sprachreglungen bewirken auch, daß grundsätzlich bei allem, was nicht dem Mainstream folgt, eine Zuordnung zu „Rechts“ erfolgt. Der Zuschauer kann und darf eine neutrale Berichterstattung erwarten, bekommt allerdings Meldung und Meinung im mundgrechten Menü serviert. Durch die Auswahl – nicht etwa nach Relevanz, sondern nach politischem Kalkül – erlangt Bedeutung, was hervorgehoben präsentiert wird. Während bei einem privaten oder staatlichen Sender klar ist, wer das Brot des Sängers bezahlt, wird dies in öffentlich-rechtlichen Medien hinter einer angenommenen Neutralität verschleiert. Da dies nicht mehr der Fall ist, könnten ARD und ZDF ausgedient haben.

Beide Sendeanstalten (ja, die nennen sich wirklich Anstalten) mit ihren jeweiligen Sendern breiten sich auf einem satten Gebührenteppich allerdings immer mehr aus. Durch eine Reform der Gebühren, die im Grunde eine Steuer ist, muß nun jeder Haushalt im Land die Anstalten finanzieren. Damit machen sich die öff.-rechtl. Sender in einer Weise breit, die jedem Wettbewerber das Wasser abgraben müßte. Nun ist es aber gerade so, daß diese sich keinem Wettbewerb stellen müssen. Während private Nachrichtensender wie ntv oder n24 ebenso wie private Sender mit Vollprogramm in gerade diesem Wettbewerb stehen. Schon mehrfach in der Vergangenheit waren es bei aktuellen Ereignissen die privaten Sender, die deutlich schneller, besser und sachgerechter informiert haben, als die öffentlich-rechtlichen. Man erinnere sich an die Anschläge in Paris im vergangenen Jahr. Bei ARD und ZDF saß man in der allerletzten Reihe, denn diese ließen einfach ihr Programm weiterlaufen. Keine Einblendung, keine Programmunterbrechung, keine Laufbänder.

Die milliardenschweren Sender zeigen immer wieder ihre Unfähigkeit, flexibel zu reagieren. Sie sind politisch klar ausgerichtet, gaukeln dabei Neutralität vor. Sie stehen ferner im Spagat zwischen der geforderten Grundversorgung mit qualitativ hochwertigen Sendungen (das ist ihr Kernauftrag) und dem Wettkampf mit privaten Sendern um Einschaltquoten (die übrigens in keinem Gesetz gefordert sind). Die Gründung von immer neuen Spartenkanälen gleicht dieses Defizit nicht aus. Bei aller Kritik an unterschiedlichen Punkten des real exisistierenden öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunks in Deutschland, wird dieser dennoch nicht so bald untergehen. Es gibt keine politische Initiative, nach Alternativen zu suchen. Für die Politik ist es bequem so. Über Sitze im Rundfunkrat hat man genügend Einfluß und die Sitze selber sind immer ein nettes Präsent für verdiente Parteifreunde. Für gesellschaftliche Großgruppen, Verbände, Kirchen, Gewerkschaften etc. gibt es ebenfalls keinen Grund, nach Veränderungen zu suchen. Man hat sich eingerichtet.

Es bleibt also nur der stete Tropfen, der auch den öffentlich-rechtlichen Stein irgendwann aushöhlt. Nach Köln ist hier Vertrauen zerbrochen. Man neigt dazu, sich anderswo zu informieren. Diesen Trend sollte man fördern. Gleichzeitig sollten die Stimmen nicht abreißen, die gebührenfinanzierten Sender deutlich kritisieren. Man könnte in politischen Kreisen beginnen, ein Bewußtsein dafür zu schaffen, daß die Bevölkerung diese Sender so nicht mehr braucht. Ob eine Reform möglich ist und wie die aussehen könnte, sei einmal dahin gestellt. Die Gefahr ein riesengroßes Bürokratiemonster zu schaffen, ist zu groß. Rundfunkgebühr und öffentlich-rechtliche Medien sind allerdings Auslaufmodelle. Die Zukunftsfähigkeit gebührenfinanzierter Zwangsbespaßung dürfte gegen null tendieren.  Ob es von nun an allerdings zehn oder zwanzig Jahre brauchen wird, bis sie ihr Ende finden, liegt an jedem, der eine Fernbedienung in die Hand nimmt.



A New Year's Resolution: Pray for the lapsed [LMS Chairman]

St Monica and St Augustine
For the Year of Mercy, why not join the LMS 'Sodality of St Augustine' to pray for lapsed loved ones?

Joining is free; the only obligation (not binding on pain of sin) is to say a short prayer each day, though you can do more (arrange Masses etc.). Members pray for each other's lapsed loved ones. I repost the details below, from its launch 18 months ago. Each year the LMS arranges a public Sung Mass for Sodality's intentions.
The Sodality of St Augustine of Hippo

From the website:
The purpose of the Sodality is to unite the prayers of members for the conversion of those dear to them. There can be few Catholics today who do not have family members or close friends who have either lapsed from the practice of the Faith, or never had it; it is a particular source of grief when parents see children and grandchildren living without the support of the Sacraments. We take heart from the example of St Augustine, converted at last by the prayers and tears of his mother St Monica, and wish to demonstrate our fellowship with others in the same position, by praying not only for our own dear ones, but for those of others who will do the same for ours.

The Sodality takes advantage of three principles of Catholic prayer:

1. The Public Prayer of the Church is more pleasing to God than private prayer.
Not only are the Sodality's prayers supported by regular Masses, but the Sodality's own prayer is a Collect of the Roman Missal, linking our individual prayers further to the Church's prayer and the Masses being said for the same intention.

2. The united prayer of a group of Catholics is more pleasing to God than the prayers of individuals alone.
The prayers of Sodality members are united for a single intention: the conversion or return of our friends and family to the Faith.

3. Prayers motivated by charity are more pleasing to God than prayers motivated by necessity.
By praying for each others' friends, members of the Sodality show fraternal solidarity and charity, even towards those unknown to them.

St Thomas Aquinas wrote (quoting someone else):
"Necessity makes us pray for ourselves, fraternal charity urges us to pray for others. But sweeter before God is prayer which is not sent from necessity, but commended by fraternal charity."
(" se orare necessitas cogit, pro altero autem, caritas fraternitatis hortatur. Dulcior autem ante Deum est oratio, non quam necessitas transmittit, sed quam caritas fraternitatis commendat.")
Summa Theologica II, Q88 a.7 c.

So please join the Sodality! There is no fee, you just send us an email: 

The penitant Magdalen
You can arrange your own Masses for the intentions of the Sodality, but the LMS is offering the service, which will be convenient for some people, of passing on Mass Offerings to priests for such Masses. We are also going to have at least one Mass a year said publicly, with more solemnity, for this intention, which we will advertise, towards which you can make a donation.

The Sodality prayer (Collect of the 'commemoration' pro devotis amicis):
Deus, qui caritátis dona per grátiam Sancti Spíritus tuórum fidélium córdibus infudísti : da fámulis et famulábus tuis, pro quibus tuam deprecámur cleméntiam, salútem mentis et córporis ; ut te tota virtúte díligent, et quæ tibi plácita sunt, tota dilectióne perfíciant. Per Dóminum nostrum Iesum Christum Fílium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte eiúsdem Spíritus Sancti, Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.

O God, who, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, hast poured the gifts of charity into the hearts of thy faithful, grant to thy servants and handmaids, for whom we entreat thy mercy, health of mind and body; that they may love thee with all their strength and, by perfect love, may do what is pleasing to thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son, who liveth and reigneth in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

Masses said for the intentions of the Sodality should when possible make a 'commemoration' as per the above Collect, and its accompanying Secret and Postcommunion. These are found among the 'various prayers' in the Roman Missal; they were included in the first printed Missal, that of 1474. They are said in addition to the Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion of the day. This liturgical commemoration can be done at any Low Mass on a day of  the 4th Class (ie, not on important feast days). The LMS Ordo has more details on these rules.

Support the work of the LMS by becoming an 'Anniversary Supporter'.


I am Jar Jar Binks [Dominicana]

It’s tough these days to find someone who’ll defend Jar Jar Binks. For those who don’t know him, you actually don’t need much of a description of his personal details, background, opinions, or accomplishments within the world of Star Wars, Episodes I–III, to understand him. Jar Jar Binks is intended to be a comic-relief character, […]


Peter Tauber wirbt für Schwarz-Grün im Bund [Mathias von Gersdorff]

<!--[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]--> „Tauber, Peter-8785“ von Foto-AG Gymnasium Melle - Eigenes Werk. Lizenziert unter CC BY 3.0 über Wikimedia Commons <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 21 false false false DE X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]>


Poles take a different path? [Oz Conservative]

The European Union is on the warpath against Poland because of a change in media laws there. From what I can tell, the story runs roughly as follows. The media situation in Poland is similar to that in Australia. Most of the media is privately owned (mostly by German publishers) but there is also a state media (similar to our ABC and SBS). Just like in Australia, all of the media is liberal.

A conservative political party, Law and Justice, won the elections recently in Poland. They could see that if the entire media remained liberal, that Poland would inevitably continue to drift in a liberal direction. They wanted to make changes at the top of the state media but had to go through a tribunal which was stacked with liberals. So they passed a law allowing the changes to be made directly.

I'm open to readers having a different view on this, but I think it fair for a conservative government to take on leftist bias in the state media. If a conservative government is serious about what it believes, and in the future of the country, then it can't ignore the issue of media bias.

The new Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski explained the Government's position as follows:

We simply want to cure our state of a few illnesses, so that it can once again be healthy. The previous government pursued a certain leftist concept of politics. As if the world could only move automatically in one direction according to a Marxist model - toward a new mix of races and cultures, a world of cyclists and vegetarians, who rely only on renewable energy and who fight against every form of religion.

That has nothing to do with traditional Polish values...the majority of Poles are moved by: tradition, a sense of history, a love of country, belief in God, and a normal family life between man and woman.

I do want to congratulate the Polish minister for standing so clearly against the view that the world can only ever move in one direction and for articulating a clear alternative direction.

The German political elite has attacked Poland because of the new media laws. The Poles, though, are giving back as good as they get:
Gunther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, said that Poland should be placed under supervision because of its attempts to establish state control over public media as well as its plans to reform the Constitutional Court. The remarks did not go down well with the Polish Justice Minister, Zbigniew Ziobro.

“I am not in the habit of replying to silly comments on Poland made by foreign politicians,” Ziobro wrote in an open letter to Oettinger, PAP reported...The minister also accused Germany of ‘hushing’ the media in its coverage of New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne.

‘[These events] were for several days hushed up by the German media...I came to the painful conclusion that it’s easier for you to talk about fictitious threats to media freedom in other countries than condemn censorship in your own country," wrote Ziobro.

He has a point, does he not? The German elite did try initially to censor reports of the attacks on German women in Cologne. The state broadcaster in Germany, ZDF, eventually apologised for not reporting the attacks. One ex-politician described the attempt to censor news of the event as follows:
It was "a scandal that it took days for the public media to take up the reports," former Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said, accusing journalists of operating a "cartel of silence and lockdown of news".

There was even some initial censorship of news of the Cologne events on Facebook and Reddit.

It therefore took about five days for the news to spread outside of Cologne and for mainstream news outlets to pick it up.

A spokesman for the Polish President also made this valid point:
In the last eight years we had no pluralism in the public media at all and no European Commissioner, no member of the European Parliament, deplored it.
Finally, a group of Polish volleyball fans unveiled a banner at a match against the German team. The banner reads "Protect your women, not our democracy."


The 13 Examples of Pride Carved into the Floor of Purgatory [St. Peter's List]

"The Proud" by Gustave Dore.

“The Proud” by Gustave Dore.

Listers, pride is the first sin to be purged in Dante’s literary work the Purgatorio. The purgation of pride represents the first ledge of purgatory. There are seven ledges – one for each of the seven deadly vices. Dante orders them according to their proximity to charity; thus, the ledge of pride is at the bottom of Mount Purgatory while lust is the uppermost ledge. On the ledge of pride, “the wall of the cliff that rises to one side of the ledge is adorned with carvings in white marble, all of them offering examples of the virtue of humility. The first example is the scene of the Annunciation. The second carving represents David, who has put aside his kingly splendor to dance in humility before the Lord. The third shows the Emperor Trajan halting his mighty array of warriors on horseback to listen to a poor widow’s plea for justice. As the Pilgrim stands marveling at these august humilities, Virgil directs his attention to a group of souls that is moving toward them. These are the Proud, who, beating their breasts, make their way around the ledge under the crushing weight of tremendous slabs of stone that they carry on their backs.”1

The massive stones force the prideful souls to face the ground as they make their way around the ledge. As they are hunched over, they contemplate examples of pride carved into the ground. As they purge the sin of pride and the weight of the stone lessens, their necks are able to lift enough to see the examples of humility carved into the walls. Regarding the carvings in the floor, Dante explains, “As they leave the souls of the Proud, Virgil calls the Pilgrim’s attention to a series of carvings in the bed of rock beneath their feet. These are the examples of the vice of Pride, of the haughty who have been brought low. Depicted in the carvings are Satan, the giant Briareus, Nimrod, Niobe, Saul, Arachne, Rehoboam, the slaying of Eriphyle by her son Alcmeon, Sennacherib’s murder by his sons, the slaughter of Cyrus by Tomyris, the destruction of Holofernes and the rout of the Assyrians, and finally the fall of Troy.”2


The Reliefs of Pride Carved into the Floor

“The reliefs cut into the floor present thirteen examples of the sin of Pride and the disastrous consequences that it entails. The first twelve tercets (in Italian) begin respectively with the letters UUUU. 0000. MMMM. forming an acrostic, which is resumed in the three lines of the thirteenth tercet: uom (the Italian word for “man”). Dante’s obvious message here is that Pride is a sin so common and so basic as to be practically synonymous with man. The thirteen examples, beginning with Lucifer’s fall, cover a wide range of material taken (almost) alternately from a biblical and a classical source. The final climactic example, the fall of Troy, represents the destruction of not merely a powerful individual but a powerful state, a civilization.”3


1. Satan

Dante describes the relief depicting the fall of Satan: “I saw, on one side, him who was supposed / to be the noblest creature of creation, / plunge swift as lightning from the height of Heaven.”4


2. Briareus the Giant

“Briareus, also called Aegaeon, in Greek mythology, one of three 100-armed, 50-headed Hecatoncheires (from the Greek words for “hundred” and “hands”), the sons of the deities Uranus (Heaven) and Gaea (Earth). Homer (Iliad, Book I, line 396) says the gods called him Briareus; mortals called him Aegaeon (lines 403–404). In Homer and Hesiod, Briareus and his brothers successfully aided Zeus, the king of the gods, against the attack by the Titans. The Hellenistic poet Callimachus (Hymn to Delos) made Briareus an opponent of Zeus and one of the assailants of Olympus, who, after his defeat, was buried under Mount Etna. Still another tradition made him a giant of the sea, an enemy of Poseidon (the god of the sea), and the inventor of warships.”5 Dante pulls from the second of the three traditions, which places Briareus against Zeus or Jupiter. Out of pride, he challenged Jupiter and was slain by a lightning bolt.6


3. Nimrod

"Nimrod & His Horn," Gustave Dore. Inferno.

“Nimrod & His Horn,” Gustave Dore. Inferno.

“Nimrod… [the] king of Shinar, was, according to the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles, the son of Cush, the great-grandson of Noah. The Bible states that he was “a mighty hunter before the Lord [and] …. began to be mighty in the earth.” Extra-biblical traditions associating him with the Tower of Babel led to his reputation as a king who was rebellious against God… Nimrod is considered the leader of those who built the Tower of Babel in the land of Shinar, the Bible states this in (Gen 10:10) The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”7 “In the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (written 1308–21), Nimrod is a figure in the Inferno. Nimrod is portrayed as a giant (which was common in the Medieval period) and is found with the other giants Ephialtes, Antaeus, Briareus, Tityos, Typhon and the other unnamed giants chained up on the outskirts of Hell’s Circle of Treachery. His only line is “Raphèl maí amèche zabí almi”, an unintelligible statement which serves to accuse himself.”8


4. Niobe

An example from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Niobe is “the daughter of Tantalus and Dione, and the wife of Amphion, King of Thebes. Proud of her sevens sons and seven daughters, Niobe boasted her superiority over Latona, who had but two, Apollo and Diana. Apollo then killed the seven sons with his bow. Diana killed the seven daughters, and Niobe was turned to stone, though tears continued to fall from her marble cheeks. Dante’s version of the story comes from Ovid.9


5. Saul

Another biblical example of pride, Saul, “son of Kish of the tribe of Benjamin and first king of Israel. He was deposed by [the prophet] Samuel for having disobeyed God’s command by sparing a life and allowing booty to be taken. Defeated by the Philistines on Mount Gilboa, Saul killed himself with his own sword to avoid capture.10


6. Arachne

Another example of pride from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Arachne is “the daughter of Idmon of Colophon, who challenged Minerva to a weaving contest. She produced a beautiful cloth on which the love-adventures of the gods were woven, and Minerva, unable to find fault with it, ripped it to shreds. Arachne hanged herself, but Minerva loosened the rope, turning it into a web and Arachne herself into a spider.” (Ovid, Metam. VI, 1-145; Musa, cmt. 43, p. 134.))


7. Rehoboam

Another biblical example from Israel’s royal history, Rehoboam is the “son of Solomon, who succeeded his father as king of Israel. He refused to lighten the taxes imposed on his people and sent Adoram to collect them. Ten of the tribes revolted, Adoram was stoned to death, and Rehoboam fled to Jerusalem.”11


8. Alcmeon

“The son of Amphiaraus the Soothsayer and Eriphyle. Foreseeing that he would die during the expedition against Thebes, Amphiaraus concealed himself. But Polynices bribed Eriphyle with the golden necklace of Harmonia to reveal her husband’s hiding place, and Amphiaraus was constrained to go to war, where he met his fate. Before he went, however, he asked his son for revenge, and Alcmeon accordingly slew his mother for her betrayal.” Amphiaraus is mentioned in Dante’s Inferno.12


9. The Murder of Sennacherib

“King of Assyria from 705 to 681 B.C., Sennacherib arrogantly made war upon King Hezekiah of Judah and the Israelites. Although outnumbered, the Israelites, with the intervention of an angel of the Lord, annihilated the Assyrian host. Sennacherib escaped the debacle but was later murdered by his two sons while praying to his false gods.”13


10. The Slaughter of Cyrus by Tomyris

“Tomyris (or Thamyris), the queen of the Massagetae (a Scythian people), sought revenge for the treacherous murder of her son at the hands of Cyrus (560-529 B.C.), emperor of the Persians. She defeated his army and Cyrus was killed in battle. Not satisfied, however, she decapitated him and threw his head into a vessel of human blood, urging him to drink his fill!”14


11. The Destruction of Holofernes

“The general of the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians. He attacked Bethulia, a city of the Israelites, and proudly mocked their God. Judith, a beautiful widow, delivered the Israelites by going to Holofernes’ tent at night under the pretense of sleeping with him. Instead, with grim resolve, she cut off his head. The Assyrians, seeing the head of their general mounted on the wall in the morning, fled in terror.”15


12. The Rout of the Assyrians

The episode of Judith assassinating Holofernes, the general of the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, appears to serve as two separate examples. The first is the pride of Holofernes and the second is the pride of the Assyrians collectively.


13. The Fall of Troy

“In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta… the end of the war came with one final plan. Odysseus devised a new ruse—a giant hollow wooden horse, an animal that was sacred to the Trojans. It was built by Epeius and guided by Athena, from the wood of a cornel tree grove sacred to Apollo, with the inscription: The Greeks dedicate this thank-offering to Athena for their return home. The hollow horse was filled with soldiers[149] led by Odysseus. The rest of the army burned the camp and sailed for Tenedos. When the Trojans discovered that the Greeks were gone, believing the war was over, they “joyfully dragged the horse inside the city”, while they debated what to do with it. Some thought they ought to hurl it down from the rocks, others thought they should burn it, while others said they ought to dedicate it to Athena. The Achaeans entered the city and killed the sleeping population. A great massacre followed which continued into the day.

Blood ran in torrents, drenched was all the earth,
As Trojans and their alien helpers died.
Here were men lying quelled by bitter death
All up and down the city in their blood.

The Trojans, fueled with desperation, fought back fiercely, despite being disorganized and leaderless. With the fighting at its height, some donned fallen enemies’ attire and launched surprise counterattacks in the chaotic street fighting. Other defenders hurled down roof tiles and anything else heavy down on the rampaging attackers. The outlook was grim though, and eventually the remaining defenders were destroyed along with the whole city.”16

  1. Purgatory, trans. Musa, opening of Canto X.
  2. Id., opening of Canto XII.
  3. Musa, Canto XII, cmts. 25-63.
  4. Canto XII; cf. Book X of Paradise Lost.
  5. Greek Mythology Encyclopedia.
  6. Musa, cmt. 28, p. 133.
  7. Nimrod Wiki.
  8. Id., cf. “The giant who Built the Tower of Babel on the plain of Shinar. (Gen. 10:10) (Cf. Inf. XXXI, 77-78; Par. XXVI, 126.” – Also, to view more of Gustave Dore’s work on the Divine Comedy, please visit The World of Dante.
  9. Metam. VI, 182-312, Musa, cmt. 39, p. 134.
  10. See, I. Sam. 15:3-11; 31:4-5; Musa, cmt. 40, p. 134.
  11. I Kings 12:18; Musa, cmt. 46, p. 134.
  12. See Inf. XX, 34; Musa, cmt. 50, 134.
  13. Musa, cmt. 52; citing II Kings 19:36-37 and Isa. 37:37-38.
  14. Musa, cmt. 55-6.
  15. Musa, cmt. 59.
  16. The Trojan War, Wikipedia.


Tales from the Ordinariate (1) [Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment]

Father Zed, archiblogopoios, is delighted that one of his favourite bishops is having tabernacles put back into their proper places. So am I; and so all right-thinking people will be. Considering the intensive bullying which an (almost) entire previous generation of bishops employed to get the tabernacles shifted to the wrong places (without any Conciliar mandate whatsoever), involving great


Note [Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment]

If people need to be in touch with me personally, and use the combox to make contact, they do need to include their own email address. Otherwise I have no means of making a private reply.


A Dialogue in Apostasy [AKA Catholic]

He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me (Lk 10: 16) With ever more determination. Some fifty years after Vatican II’s Declaration Nostra ætate, regarding the Church’s relations with non-Christian religions. It’s a train wreck. Going off the rails. Like the train plunging downwards from the exploding bridge on the river Kwai. It’s a shipwreck. In the making now for over five decades. Going asunder. Like the RMS Titanic, which for all her imprudent navigation, at least tried to avoid the iceberg. It’s tragic. It’s more »


Maria, die Gottesmutter, - sie ist die Überwinderin aller Häresien! [et nunc]

Normal 0 21 false false false DE X-NONE X-NONE Freue dich, Jungfrau Maria,

denn alle Irrlehren hast allein du vernichtet.
Die du den Worten des Erzengels Gabriel geglaubt hast.
Als Jungfrau hast du den geboren, der Gott und Mensch ist;
und nach der Geburt bist du, Jungfrau, unversehrt geblieben:
Jungfrau auch nach der Geburt.
Gottesmutter, tritt für uns ein!
Gaude, Maria Virgo,
cunctas haereses sola interemisti.
Quæ Gabrielis Archangeli dictis credidisti.
Dum Virgo Deum et hominem genuisti:
et post partum, Virgo,
inviolata permansisti.
Dei Genetrix, intercede pro nobis.

(Tractus des Commune der Marien-Messen, Volksmissale)

Diese Antiphon wurde nach der Liturgiereform sowohl aus dem Messformular als auch aus dem Brevier gestrichen. Bis dahin wurde sie mittwochs und samstags gebetet. Dabei wurde doch bereits beim Konzil von Ephesus 431, Maria zur ‚Theotokos’, zur Mutter Gottes, erklärt. Und seit den ersten Jahrhunderten, war auch ein anderer berühmter Ausspruches in Umlauf, nämlich jener, der die Jungfrau Maria als ‚Überwinderin aller Häresien’ bezeichnete. Ich verstehe und glaube, dass es sich dabei nicht um fromme Übertreibungen handelt, sondern um Wahrheiten, die mehr denn je gültig und gerade heute notwendig sind, erkannt zu werden.

Kehren wir also wirklich zu Maria zurück!
Bekehren wir uns zu unserem Erlöser Jesus Christus! 

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Frau_Angelico_Annunciazione, Gaude Maria virgo


New Studies of Ukrainian Realities [Eastern Christian Books]

The University of Toronto Press catalogue was waiting for me in my mailbox after the break. It tells us of several books forthcoming in 2016 that will be of interest to Ukrainian and Russian Christians especially, inter alia, and to those trying to understand the history of the current Russian war against Ukraine, and Ukraine's own recent history.

It also drew my attention to a wide-ranging study released last summer: Margarita Balmaceda,  Politics of Energy Dependency: Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania between Domestic Oligarchs and Russian Pressure (U of T Press, 2015),464pp.

The publisher tells us this about the book:

Energy has been an important element in Moscow’s quest to exert power and influence in its surrounding areas both before and after the collapse of the USSR. With their political independence in 1991, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania also became, virtually overnight, separate energy-poor entities heavily dependent on Russia. This increasingly costly dependency – and elites’ scrambling over associated profits – came to crucially affect not only relations with Russia, but the very nature of post-independence state building.

The Politics of Energy Dependency explores why these states were unable to move towards energy diversification. Through extensive field research using previously untapped local-language sources, Margarita M. Balmaceda reveals a complex picture of local elites dealing with the complications of energy dependency and, in the process, affecting the energy security of Europe as a whole.

A must-read for anyone interested in Eastern Europe, Russia, and the politics of natural resources, this book reveals the insights gained by looking at post-Soviet development and international relations issues not only from a Moscow-centered perspective, but from that of individual actors in other states.

Set for release in March is George Liber's study, Total Wars and the Making of Modern Ukraine, 1914-1954 (U of T Press, 2016), 416pp.

About this book we are told:
Between 1914 and 1954, the Ukrainian-speaking territories in East Central Europe suffered almost 15 million “excess deaths” as well as numerous large-scale evacuations and forced population transfers. These losses were the devastating consequences of the two world wars, revolutions, famines, genocidal campaigns, and purges that wracked Europe in the first half of the twentieth century and spread new ideas, created new political and economic systems, and crafted new identities.

In Total Wars and the Making of Modern Ukraine, 1914–1954, George O. Liber argues that the continuous violence of the world wars and interwar years transformed the Ukrainian-speaking population of East Central Europe into self-conscious Ukrainians. Wars, mass killings, and forced modernization drives made and re-made Ukraine’s boundaries, institutionalized its national identities, and pruned its population according to various state-sponsored political, racial, and social ideologies. In short, the two world wars, the Holodomor, and the Holocaust played critical roles in forming today’s Ukraine.

A landmark study of the terrifying scope and paradoxical consequences of mass violence in Europe’s bloodlands, Liber’s book will transform our understanding of the entangled histories of Ukraine, the USSR, Germany, and East Central Europe in the twentieth century.
Also set for release this year is a collection sure to be of interest to Canada's very considerable Ukrainian community: Lisa Grekul and Lindy Ledohowski, Unbound: Ukrainian Canadians Writing Home (U of T Press, 2016), 160pp.

About this book we are told:
What does it mean to be Ukrainian in contemporary Canada? The Ukrainian Canadian writers in Unbound challenge the conventions of genre – memoir, fiction, poetry, biography, essay – and the boundaries that separate ethnic and authorial identities and fictional and non-fictional narratives. These intersections become the sites of new, thought-provoking and poignant creative writing by some of Canada’s best-known Ukrainian Canadian authors.

To complement the creative writing, editors Lisa Grekul and Lindy Ledohowski offer an overview of the history of Ukrainian settlement in Canada and an extensive bibliography of Ukrainian Canadian literature in English. Unbound is the first such exploration of Ukrainian Canadian literature and a book that should be on the shelves of Canadian literature fans and those interested in the study of ethnic, postcolonial, and diasporic literature.

The Francis Effect is not necessarily a good thing [Vox Cantoris]

The Francis Effect is coined phrase used much by my good friend, Tommy Rosica. His Salt + Light corporate contributors invested thousands of dollars into a production and roll-out of a video of the same name. I wonder what Tom and friends think of this little "Francis Effect."

Two examples stand for all. One middle-aged gentleman whom I asked, with discretion and delicacy, if he had repented of a repeated series of grave sins against the seventh commandment “do not steal,” of which he had accused himself with a certain frivolity and almost joking about the circumstances, certainly not attenuating, that had accompanied them, responded to me with the words of Pope Francis: “Mercy knows no limits” and by showing surprise that I would remind him of the need for repentance and for the resolution to avoid falling back into the same sin in the future: “I did what I did. What I will do I will decide when I go from here. What I think about what I have done is a question between me and God. I am here only to have what everyone deserves at least at Christmas: to be able to receive communion at midnight!” And he concluded by paraphrasing the now archfamous expression of Pope Francis: “Who are you to judge me?”
One young lady, to whom I had proposed as an act of penance connected to the sacramental absolution of a grave sin against the fifth commandment “do not kill” that she kneel in prayer before the Most Holy Sacrament exposed on the altar of a church and perform an act of material charity toward a poor person to the extent of her means, responded to me with annoyance that “no one must ask for anything in exchange for God’s mercy, because it is free,” and that she had neither the time to stop at a church to pray (she had to “run around doing Christmas shopping downtown”), nor money to give to the poor (“who don’t even need it that much, because they have more than we do”).

The above two paragraphs are from a letter written to Sandro Magister by a priest. It is a must read for all, especially priests - do them a favour, send this to them.

I can tell you that I have had similar comments from priests here in Toronto, not about what is said in the Confessional but that nothing is said because nobody is going. 
The Francis Effect is not a good thing.


Fortnightly Book, January 10 [Siris]

Since I've just come off a fairly busy holiday and am gearing up for a new term, I decided to avoid anything too heavy for the next fortnightly book. So I'll be reading Helen MacInnes's 1958 spy novel, North from Rome. I don't know whether this was my grandfather's or grandmother's, but I'll finally have gotten around to reading it.

Helen MacInnes was born in Glasgow in 1907 and came to the United States in 1937 when her husband was appointed chair of the Classics department at Columbia University. Her husband, Gilbert Highet, was a well known classicist. He also had done some intelligence work for the Secret Intelligence Service, popularly known as MI6. MacInnes would write 21 espionage novels, several of which were extremely popular. They were also famous for being surprisingly realistic -- some of them were occasionally used as required reading in training intelligence agents and there have always been rumors that she leaked classified information in her fiction. Thus she became known as the Queen of Spy Writers. It's interesting to look back at reviews and bestseller lists -- she's repeatedly mentioned in the same breath with Ian Fleming and John Le Carré (both of whom she often outsold) -- given that she's rarely remembered today.

In North from Rome, a playwright happens to save an Italian girl and ends up for his good deed having to navigate a world of Communism and drug dealing and international intrigue far more complicated than anything he has experienced before. It tends to get mixed reviews from fans, some really liking it and some thinking it weak; it perhaps suffers from falling between her two peak periods in the forties and sixties. We will see....


Ross Douthat does that again [Musings of a Pertinacious Papist]

That is, as Guy Noir - Private Eye says, Douthat is "once again, one hundred percent terrific."

"Catholicism at Year Zero" (New York Times, January 5, 2016).


"A Small Step Toward God... Even Just the Desire" – In Jubilee Book, The Pope's Call to "Mercy" [Whispers in the Loggia]

A key thread of a speech that dearly needs revisiting (coming as it did amid peak input overload), in his September talk to the US bishops the Pope sought to instruct the bench that, in episcopal ministry today, "Dialogue is our method, not as a shrewd strategy but out of fidelity to the One who never wearies of visiting the marketplace, even at the eleventh hour, to propose his offer of love."

Much as Francis' preference for conversations over lectures has fleshed itself out in any number of ways over nearly three years on Peter's chair, what would arguably be the boldest step of said "method" couldn't be guessed that morning, even by those of us sitting in St Matthew's Cathedral. But barely three months later, having already been set into motion by that point, it now arrives in print, introducing a new means of papal communication: dialogue as magisterial text.

Likely to be Papa Bergoglio's principal thematic document of this Holy Year, The Name of God Is Mercy – releasing Tuesday in six languages across some 90 countries – elevates the book-length Papal Q&A (now a two-decade old format) to an act of Petrine ministry given its focus. While St John Paul II's Crossing the Threshold of Hope (1995) consisted mostly of philosophical reflections, and Light of the World, Benedict XVI's 2011 discussions with his longtime collaborator Peter Seewald, took a wide-ranging survey of the state of the church, Francis has adapted the style to instead offer a conversational exegesis on a truth of the faith – as he underscores, "mercy is doctrine" – and the guiding principle behind an act of governance: the Extraordinary Jubilee now underway at his direction across the Catholic world.

Stacking out at 100 small pages in its English edition – a copy of which was obtained by Whispers – the book took shape in a series of summer interviews Francis had with the top Italian vaticanista, Andrea Tornielli of Turin's La Stampa, in the pontiff's room at the Domus.

The idea pitched by Tornielli in light of the Holy Year, while its result – extensive, casual answers to brief, lightly-steered questions – can be taken with the authority of a formal document, the manner of delivery reads less like the "World Series" of a promulgated text than the Pope's more comfortable style of "batting practice." In more ecclesial terms, a treatise that could've been produced as an encyclical (as John Paul himself did on mercy with 1980's Dives in Misericordia), has emerged in a significantly more concise, less intimidating format akin to a vademecum (practical guide-book) – or even a longish "bulletin column" from the church's Universal Pastor – making for an easy read that almost seems to have parishes and classrooms in its sights to fully explain the concept Francis himself has indicated from his pontificate's very outset, and again here, as a critical end for the church. In essence, then, the discussion he takes on boils down to three questions: What is mercy? How is it sought? How is it lived?

One last word on the format: three years into his reign, it'd seem that Francis is only now sufficiently self-assured to take his own advice and change things up. Despite his lament in Evangelii gaudium "that nowadays documents do not arouse the same interest as in the past and that they are quickly forgotten," the Pope felt little recourse but to unleash the sprawling programmatic monologue seven months after his election. Yet after pleading with the Italian bishops last spring to resist "the drawing up of documents — our own — in which the abstract theoretical-doctrinal aspect... for some scholars and specialists" was paramount,  urging that "instead we must endeavour to translate them into concrete and easily understood recommendations," his treatment of mercy arrives as an apparent stab not just at said approach, but an even clearer truth: "If you want something done right, do it yourself."

* * *
For all the hubbub surrounding the unprecedented Holy Year rooted in a theme (as opposed to a milestone of time), continuity looms large from the text's first lines – asked by Tornielli what inspired the declaration of the Jubilee, the Pope cited "the teachings and declarations of the Popes who preceded me," mentioning contributions from each back to John XXIII. Accordingly, no less than the book's title comes from a B16 quote the now Pope-emeritus wrote into his Angelus on Divine Mercy Sunday 2008 – a feast so designated by John Paul in tribute to the 20th century Polish devotion.

Yet as the questions delve deeper, even as the pontiff ventures into Greek etymology and obscure prayers from the Milan church's Ambrosian rite to make his points, what becomes the golden thread of the answers is uniquely Bergoglio's own, returning Francis to his strongest suit: his own experiences of "falling" and forgiveness, and those of the people whose paths he crossed in Buenos Aires as the bus-riding cardinal who spent his vacations in the city's slums until the day he left for the Conclave.

The characters are memorable, perhaps even relatable: prisoners; women forced into prostitution to support their families; the "spiritually mature" relative kept from the sacraments due to civil remarriage... indeed, "the weary eyes of a mother exhausting herself with work to bring food home to her drug-addicted son" who, as a living example of mercy, "loves him, in spite of his mistakes."

To be sure, no Francis text would be complete without some colorful language, and a hit or two at his favorite targets. Ergo, the Pope describes his beloved confessionalunsurprisingly, the topic of a whole chapter – as a place that must be neither "dry cleaner" nor "torture chamber"; a corrupt person is (using his grandmother's phrase) seen as someone for whom "butter wouldn't melt in his mouth," and when it comes to the "scholars of the law" the Jesuit pontiff almost delights in tweaking, he admits that "at times I have surprised myself by thinking that a few very rigid people would do well to slip a little, so that they could remember that they are sinners and thus meet Jesus."

If there is one curveball or piece that's bound to be sensationalized, it's almost certain to be Papa Bergoglio's return at Tornielli's behest to Francis' "Who am I to judge?" retort about "a person who is gay, seeks the Lord and has goodwill" at his first in-flight press conference.

In response, Francis repeated that entire context of the original 2013 statement, adding this time that "I am glad that we are talking about 'homosexual people' because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity. And people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love.

"I prefer that homosexuals come to confession," he said, "that they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together. You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it."

All that said, it's a striking testimony to Francis' "Teflon" status in global media that "Pope Tells Gays To Confess" hasn't dominated the initial round of headlines on the release – Lord knows any similar utterance from his predecessor would've sparked eruptive coverage for days on end.

In sum, however, anyone looking to the book as fuel for ideological diatribes or point-scoring – whether ad intra or anywhere else – will come away disappointed. Then again, if and where that's the case, then perhaps the examination of conscience contained within its pages is ever more needed.

Yet far from any foodfight, just like the Jubilee he's charted, Francis' message and invitation here is directed to the wide world – especially those who've felt "wounded" in life, those distanced from or uncared for by the church, or even from God Himself...

“The most important thing in the life of every man and every woman is not that they should never fall along the way. The important thing is always to get back up, not to stay on the ground licking your wounds. The Lord of mercy always forgives me; he always offers me the possibility of starting over. He loves me for what I am, he wants to raise me up, and he extends his hand to me. This is one of the tasks of the Church: to help people perceive that there are no situations that they cannot get out of. For as long as we are alive it is always possible to start over, all we have to do is let Jesus embrace us and forgive us.”
SVILUPPO: Marking the eve of the book's release, Vatican Radio released further, extensive extracts from the English text on Monday morning.



Four good essays [Musings of a Pertinacious Papist]

[Hat tip to JM]


Fr. Eduard Perrone's proposals for the evangelization of the Archdiocese of Detroit [Musings of a Pertinacious Papist]

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [a temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, January 10, 2016):

Sometimes I feel like a word processor, an inhuman, mechanized instrument, churning out words, as duty necessitates. (This is pure bellyaching, cherished reader, and accordingly you ought not to pay much attention to it.) So many pastor’s columns, sermons, classroom teaching, counseling and occasional talks–a veritable mountain of words that are weighed, pondered and critiqued. I reckon that I have written close to six hundred Descants and a whole library of sermons and conferences. I wonder about the utility (or futility) of it all. Ideally, this mass of verbiage is an instrumental means to promulgate the teaching of Christ. But a preacher and writer can have his doubts. Every word of his will be tried in the balance on the last day. Undaunted by this reckoning, I plod on, obedient to what I believe to be my pastoral duty. Patience!

That said and done, I move on to the business of reporting on the end-of-the-year meeting held here in preparation for the upcoming archdiocesan Synod. I knew in advance that I would not be able to attend the gathering due to a previous engagement. In a way, my absence was to the good since our people spoke perhaps more freely without me being there.

Why ever the Archdiocese deemed Grotto parish desirable for the expression of its people’s views and comments remains an unsolved mystery. We are notably and decidedly different from many a parish–the very reason you make the weekly sacrifice of goodly travel time to get here. Our sole emphasis in this parish has been to form as good and devout Catholics as possible we can be. The rest of what we do is as so much jazz.

The fundamental question for the proposed Synod is: Why bother? If every priest faithfully and piously fulfilled the duties Holy Orders imposed on him for the salvation of his people, all would be well. Long years of neglect of these and–further–of departure from them in the pursuit of modernistic, socialistic and experimental ends have spelled the ecclesiastical disaster which has now hit hard on the spiritual lives of Catholic people. If it were up to me to suggest one thing that would have the greatest positive impact on the life of the Church in this Archdiocese it would be the reform of the clergy. By this I mean that priests would not only do more of the works characteristic of priests and much less of endless meetings, administrative business and wastes of their time but that they would engage themselves instead in a more concentrated pursuit of the holy life their sacred calling imposes upon them. Out would go secular-styled liturgies and inane preaching, interminable meetings, secular clothing, partying and dancing, vulgar speech, inappropriate movies, excessive drink, rock music (and the whole junk culture generally), and in would come holy hours, spiritual reading, more private prayer, and the cultivation of a more intense intellectual and theological life along with a priestly solidarity with other priests who aim at securing these same goals. There are indeed many fine priests in this Archdiocese who already do these things and who shun the worldly model of the priest expected of them in some places. Yet, as you well know, these priests are not in evidence everywhere.

Regarding the recent pre-synodal gathering here, one thoughtful writer said that its format was “a classic consulting ‘stakeholder feedback’” session. With my ignorance of the business world, I have no idea of what that means except that it is apparently a decidedly secular way for the Church to be doing its ‘business.’ In my unhumble opinion, I think the Church should be distinctively churchly and have that proverbially Christian ‘saltiness’ in its manner of operating. In other words, perhaps the very way the Synod is being prepared and plans to function is already indicative of the very problem it seeks to edress: the invasion of secularity in the ways of the Church.

I heard that many of our people expressed their content with our parish and their appreciation for its priests. They also aired their dissatisfaction with parishes from which they departed. The dangling question however remains, What good will this input accomplish? When all gets sifted through the “process,” what will be left of our people’s comments and suggestions which are meant, as I understand it, to be of service to the Archbishop? My near cynical reaction is that our participation will have been for naught. Yet, grace has the potency to elevate weakened human nature, and so a spiritually deflated (but not depleted) diocese can be rejuvenated by divine helps that exceed all human efforts.

I close with two fanciful proposals of my own for evangelization in the Archdiocese. I would ask every priest to make a voluntary pledge in writing to the Archbishop to bolster his priestly life by avoiding secular ways and entertainments and by implementing spiritual exercises that are characteristically priestly (daily rosary, holy hours, daily meditation in silence, spiritual reading, regular confession, etc.); and I’d ask every priest voluntarily to consecrate his parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at every Mass on a given weekend. These two things are as simple, concrete, and extremely doable as they are also highly unlikely of ever being considered for the diocesan Synod. Thus I rest my case on relative disvalue of the enterprise of renewal of the diocese through the Synodal process.

Fr. Perrone


The Least Surprising Endorsement Ever [Creative Minority Report]

I love how we're all supposed to be surprised that for the first time ever, Planned Parenthood is endorsing in a presidential primary...AND IT'S HILLARY!!!!

I mean seriously, who saw that coming? Oh, everyone.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards called Clinton the "leader I trust in the White House to make sure women and families move forward." "Moving forward" presumably means killing babies while collecting millions in taxpayer funds.

Planned Parenthood has reportedly announced plans to spend about $20 million to get the ice queen elected.



A good show on Juventutem [Musings of a Pertinacious Papist]

Alex Begin, who writes the weekly "Tridentine Community News" columns we run here every Sunday, is producer of the "Extraordinary Faith" series (aired on EWTN), which he largely financed himself. It's a terrific series with an appeal beyond the "Latin Mass crowd" (designed that way) by virtue of its celebration of "the beauty of classical Catholic sacred art, architecture, music, and liturgy.

I just posted the following on Facebook, but I don't want you to miss it here:
Some would find it oxymoronic if I said that anything as ancient as the Tridentine Mass can effectively attract young people to Mass and the Catholic Faith today. The first part of Episode 7 of the EWTN show, "Extraordinary Faith," is devoted to Juventutem Miami, a young people's group, which I, for one, find sort of ... inspiring. (Watch it full-screen. The resolution is awesome.):


Vespers at Hampton Court Palace on Feb. 9 [Semiduplex]

Late last week, the Catholic Herald reported that vespers will be sung in the Chapel Royal at Cardinal Wolsey’s great Hampton Court Palace for the first time since the English reformation. From the Herald,

On Tuesday February 9 Cardinal Vincent Nichols will celebrate Vespers in King Henry VIII’s chapel.

The Vespers, at Hampton Court Palace’s Chapel Royal, will be celebrated in the Latin Rite and the Anglican Bishop of London will deliver a sermon.

The service will be dedicated to St John the Baptist, as the Chapel Royal was built by Cardinal Wolsey on the site of a chapel of the Knights of St John Hospitaller, dedicated to that saint.

The music will be performed by Harry Christophers and his ensembles The Sixteen and Genesis Sixteen.

Before Vespers is celebrated, Cardinal Nichols and the Bishop of London will host a discussion on the bonds between their churches and the dialogue they have had over the centuries.

(Emphasis supplied.)

We suspect that the point of this service is not to sing vespers in a Catholic rite at the Chapel Royal, but to provide an edifying and pleasant liturgical framework for a Catholic-Anglican prayer service in the aftermath of the meeting of Anglican primates this month. Had we been asked, we might have suggested bringing in some Benedictines from Farnborough to sing vespers according to the traditional Benedictine rite, which would be, for the most part, very familiar to Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey, and the rest of the men and women who made Hampton Court Palace so famous. It would also be a nice way of nodding to the long, rich history of the Benedictines in England.


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