Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Consistent Insanity

Why do I still blog
So late, day after day, when
A warm bed awaits?

Catholic and Enjoying It! Confronts Torture. Again.

Mark Shea of Catholic and Enjoying It! is getting tired of apologists for torture. He's simply asking for a serious discussion on how we, as a society under siege from islamofascists, can avoid torture. He's not getting it, his linked story notwithstanding.

This is a serious problem we Fools must face. Either we stand with the Church or we don't. Since the Church is how Christ chooses to mediate his presence to the world, we had better make our stand after considerable reflection and deliberation. When we do, we had damn well better make it with conviction, for we've literally bet our lives on it! So which will it be?

Christ stands by his Church. His church has said that torture is an instrinsic evil. Therefore, if any of us advocate its use, define it down, obscure whether or not certain measures of "coercive interrogation" such as waterboarding are torture or in any other way apologize for this evil, we've departed from the Lord and his Church. Period.

It doesn't matter if the time bomb ticks away. We may hypothetically place ourselves in that situation. We may even imagine using the very evils we decry. That doesn't make torture moral. On the contrary, it makes us mortal sinners. Period.

Foolables on the right will insist we live "in the real world." Funny, I thought we lived in God's creation, which, admittedly, includes the world of sinful humanity. I thought our Father in heaven was Lord of this creation. I thought he provided laws written upon our hearts so that we would better love him and one another. And didn't this Father give us his very son? And still does? Why, yes, I believe he did. Maybe we all ought to have a little faith in him? As in, we can find morally acceptable ways to extract information from recalcitrant terrorists? Perish the thought!

Torture is wrong. Period. End of story. It doesn't matter who's political ox this gores, it's the truth. We can either assent or dissent from it, but we can't deny the truth of it: torture is intrinsic evil. Accept it.

The Reasonable Boston Globe on Menino

The usual diatribe from the cheerleaders of Reasonable Moloch worship and Foolable water-carrying follows. Those Catholic Fools that point out Mayor Menino cafeteria Catholicism are labeled "conservative activists." Those Catholics that support his nanny-statist devotions to the poverty lobby are called ... Catholic. What a surprise.

Get the mouth-foaming here.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino said yesterday that critics campaigning to have him ousted as keynote speaker at a Catholic Charities fund-raiser next week are blinded by anger and risk weakening the Catholic Church by making it more exclusive.

''Faith, hope, and charity, that's what the church is about," the mayor said in his first public remarks on the issue since Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley announced last week he would not attend the event. ''If these people are Catholic and charitable, where does this animosity come from? They are not charitable at all. As a Catholic, I am trying to help people and give them hope every day."

Menino said discontent among Boston-area Catholics has its roots in the sexual-abuse scandal and the closings of churches and schools that followed. ''We all were angry" about these things, said Menino, who five months ago condemned the archdiocese's closing of Our Lady of the Presentation School in Brighton. ''But people make mistakes, and it needs forgiveness. We've got to get beyond it now.

''That's what we were trying to do," he said, referring to himself and O'Malley.

While Menino's efforts to relieve poverty and other urban ills are recognized by many Catholics, conservative activists have targeted him for his support for birth control, abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and other positions they say are anathema to authentic Catholics.
Yes, fascinating and insightful, right? Not to mention objective. Well, at least they have the decency to quote the "conservatives":
Carol McKinley -- a founder of Faithful Voice, an antiabortion group campaigning to have Catholic Charities disinvite Menino -- rejected Menino's contention that the effort is rooted in anger. She said the mayor's positions are contrary to church teaching.

''This is about an internal schism in our religion; Menino's comments clearly show that," McKinley said. ''He is trying to portray our efforts to preserve the tenets of our religion for our children as angry and hateful."


The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts says in a memorandum posted on the Internet that the mayor is a ''supporter of the culture of death" and is involved in the ''aggressive de-Christianization of municipal government." The same memo attacks the mayor's wife for criticizing the treatment of women in Catholicism.

C.J. Doyle, executive director of the league, defended the statements last night. ''Mayor Menino has not dissented on one or two issues," Doyle said. ''He has rejected Catholic teaching across virtually the entire spectrum of social issues."
Of course, they couldn't do that without characterizing the Catholic Action Leagues statement as an "attack" on the mayor's wife, rather than what it most likely was: a condemnation of her uncharitable and intellectually dishonest attack on the Catholic Church. What? Did we fools expect the Reasonable Boston Globe to not promote the sacrament to Moloch by any means necessary?

None of their rhetorical manuevering will hide the truth, because Mayor Menino reveals his own incomprehension of--or infidelity to--his faith:
Explaining his views on the relationship between his faith and his political life, Menino, who is a church-going Catholic, said that the church should teach to the faithful but should not interfere in issues that involve the civil rights of the entire population.

When the church tries to exert political pressure to bring civil policy in line with its teachings, Menino said, ''I can argue with them, and I can not respect them for those decisions."

''When the pope speaks on doctrine, that is absolute," Menino said. ''I don't think choice and gay marriage are doctrine."

Menino said that as upset as he was by the sexual abuse scandal and its aftermath, ''I still have a church and a God I believe in."

''Why do we keep going with this anger?" he said. ''None of us likes everything that goes on."
Any Catholic that insists the Church's positions on "choice" and "gay marriage" are either ignorant or hypocritical. His honor sounds like a man desperate to have his Catholic cake and eat his politics, too. He protests too much if he complains about faithful Catholics' complaints regarding his un-Catholic stance. Perhaps he's better off giving to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. Somehow, I doubt he'll cross Moloch. That would be far too Foolish for a Foolable fellow like him. Besides, his Reasonable backers in the party would never forgive him for such integrity. More's the pity.

The Reasonable Boston Globe has once again found the tired meme. Only this time, that dog won't hunt. People belong to the Catholic Church after their confirmation by their own choice. The Catholic Church does not impress her members. She invites them. Mayor Menino can play the part of the brave Independent Thinker defying a medeval Church. People are too smart for that, however. Sooner or later, someone will ask him, "why do you stay in the Catholic Church if you don't want to be a Catholic?" I wonder what he'll say?

Cahiers Peguy: Confession is a Cry

Fred K. of Cahiers Peguy confesses the truth about the sacrament of Confession. He references the wisdom of Msgr. Giussani on the subject:
In Confession, sorrow is not a feeling, but a judgment; it is acknowledging that your act was not love, was not freedom, was not openness to the “something more,” was not part of a context, but pretension that claims to be a law unto itself. Sorrow is a judgment and resolutions are not a program of which you are master (it’s not that you have suddenly mastered yourself!). It would be useless, it would be emptying the Mystery of Christ, it would be saving yourself. Resolutions are exactly the cry from the last remnant of sincerity left in you: “I am not able, God. You change me. I don’t know how, I don’t know how to go about it, I don’t know how to change myself. You change me, You save me!” Resolutions are this last remnant of sincerity left in you which, as it doesn’t find in itself the solution deemed necessary, cries out to the Mystery of God, to the power of God, because it is evident that God is more powerful, the power of God is greater than our ineptitude, greater than our wickedness.
How tragic that our Reasonable elite's pursuit of Absolute Individualism has made ignorance of Confession so fashionable. Far too few people truly appreciate how liberating it is to ask for, and receive, God's mercy through the sacrament.

Many of us may find it easy to ignore our enslavement to evil. We don't want to admit we're addicts of iniquity. We can't stand the diea that we're out of control. Confession affords us the opportunity to shed these illusions. We can admit the truth about ourselves when we confess. We affirm with God the humbling, humiliating truth: we're not self-sufficient. We can't live in the fullness of Truth and Love without his grace. We can't live the lives of integrity and charity we're called to live without him. We admit that we need him. We turn to him as the one and only power that can shatter the enslaving darkness that consumes us like a cancer. And we find that he pours out his grace, mercy and love on us like the first spring showers that invigorate the thawing soil. He welcomes us into communion with him again. He makes us holy and whole.

Who could stand to miss that?

Corporation Pros and Cons

A University of Wisconsin affiliate hosts a panel discussion that examines the role of corporations in society. Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune has the story here.

The word "corporation" has become a four-letter word for many, as the Enron and Tyco cases of the last few years and recent examination of Wal-Mart's competitive practices have been touted as infamous examples of corporate greed.

On Tuesday night, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point's Center for the Small City hosted a panel discussion of "The Corporation," a Canadian documentary that critically examines the emergence, development and operation of the large, modern business corporation.

Scott Wallace, an assistant professor of business and economics at UWSP, said he was disappointed by the film, which he felt had not examined key aspects of corporations. One of the things omitted, he said, was the fact that managers and owners of a corporation are two separate groups.
"Those who run the corporation have more information than the owners," he said, "which puts the shareholders at a disadvantage."
Wallace gave the example of Enron and the $20 million sale in stock by an executive just prior to the discovery of company's accounting practices.
He said he felt the documentary was critical, without providing benefits of corporations, like the economic growth they can help provide.
"There has to be some sense of balance," he said.
A Catholic former CEO weighs in, too:
The former CEO of Joerns Corp. in Stevens Point, Ray Nass, sat on the panel and also discussed his experience as CEO of Appollo Corporation in Somerset. He had both good and bad experiences with regard to corporate culture, which he said would sometimes conflict with his belief in Catholic social teaching.

After many successful and ethical years at the head of one corporation, there came a time when "I was forced to do things that went against my conscience," he said. He then was able to move on to another position in another company that he felt treated its employees and the public well.

"The inequitable distribution of wealth is morally wrong," Nass said. "Position, power and intelligence are gifts of God to be used for good rather than exploitation."
Aside from Reverend Micke's Foolable, Robin-Hood-esque rhetoric, the panel participants offer a balanced look at how corporations impact society. Professor Wallace refuses to slam corporations; Mr. Nass won't canonize them. Their perspectives balance one another in a refreshing exercise of intellectual honesty and realistic insight.

Foolables of the right can wax poetic about the perfect efficiency of Adam Smith's laizze faire economics. Foolables on the left can't get past the Nanny State as the way out of unfettered capitalism's darwinian jungle. As usual, the truth lay elsewhere. For no Foolable has seriously addressed Christ's presence in our society's economic life.

We are not simply Absolute subjects that merely engage in mutual exchange out of self-interest. Nor our we simply part of the Borg collective of libertine nanny-statism. We are people made in the image and likeness of God. We who professor our faith in Christ Jesus the lord are disciples that unite with one another and live in communion with each other and him. Therefore, we are a people. Each of us live in the inalienable dignity given to us by our Father in heaven. Each of us live our individuality to the fullest when we give the very best of ourselves to one another. Thus, in relationship, we truly become who we are. When we participate in the economy, we particpate as members of his mystical body. We make our economic decisions with an eye to serving our neighbor as well as fulfilling the just needs that we have. We generously share what we have with those less fortunate than ourselves. We can't help but serve those who can't help themselves, for when we do, we serve Christ. We ultimately regard our use of even our own property as a stewardship, for which we owe an accounting.

Corporations ultimately represent a way in which people freely associate in order to further their own gain. Thus, corporations, like nations, have no morals; they have only interests. It remains up to we the people, who own the shares/run the corporation/consume the company's product or service, to determine how those corporations will pursue those interests. While government has a legitimate role to play in ensuring a sound juridicial structure in which corporations participate, it can't absolve us of our responsibility as moral agents. We need to ensure that these organizations pursue their interests through moral and just means. They're as good, or as evil, as we allow them to be.

Toddler's Delight

Bob the Builder lives
in my DVD player
Again and again

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Aching arms again,
Hold out crying fingers to
Hum the keys once more!

ReasonableLA Times calls Evil Good. Again.

Hat tip to Mark Shea.

What a surprise. A hagiography of one of Moloch's Archpriests and disciples. And why not? He's doing the Reasonable thing: "Offering Abortion, Rebirth" sayz the Los Angeles Times

Yeah, a real life savior. Sure.

Behold the carnage:
Harrison opened an obstetrics and gynecology practice, but after the Supreme Court established abortion as a constitutional right in 1973, he decided to take on an additional specialty. Now 70, Harrison estimates he's terminated at least 20,000 pregnancies.

His clinic has not been picketed for years, but Harrison feels very much on the front lines these days.


He calls himself an "abortionist" and says, "I am destroying life."

But he also feels he's giving life: He calls his patients "born again."

"When you end what the woman considers a disastrous pregnancy, she has literally been given her life back," he says.

Before giving up obstetrics in 1991, Harrison delivered 6,000 babies. Childbirth, he says, should be joyous; a woman should never consider it a punishment or an obligation.

"We try to make sure she doesn't ever feel guilty," he says, "for what she feels she has to do."
"Dr." Harrison has murdered at least 20,000 unborn children. He acknowledges that he takes life--and justifies it because it serves the purposes of his patients. This may be all well and Reasonable to Moloch worshippers.

Fools probably would have trouble keeping their dinners down. I know I am. The darkness in which this man lives frightens me. I can only look on in horror as he twists his rational to utter insanity in the pursuit of his twisted ideology. And the patients, the women that come to have their children murdered by him. How heart-breaking!
The abortion takes two minutes. The patient lies still and quiet, her eyes closed, a few tears rolling down her cheeks. The friend who has accompanied her stands at her side, mutely stroking her arm.

When he's done, Harrison performs another ultrasound. The screen this time is blank but for the contours of the uterus. "We've gotten everything out of there," he says.

As the nurse drops the instruments in the sink with a clatter, the teenager looks around, woozy.

"It was a lot easier than I thought it would be," she says. "I thought it would be horrible, but it wasn't. The procedure, that is."

She is not yet sure, she says, how she is doing emotionally. She feels guilty, sad and relieved, all in a jumble.

"There's things wrong with abortion," she says. "But I want to have a good life. And provide a good life for my child." To keep this baby now, she says, when she's single, broke and about to start college, "would be unfair."


A high school volleyball player says she doesn't want to give up her body for nine months. "I realize just from the first three months how it changes everything," she says.

Kim, a single mother of three, says she couldn't bear to give away a child and have to wonder every day if he were loved. Ending the pregnancy seemed easier, she says — as long as she doesn't let herself think about "what could have been."


The 17-year-old in for a consultation this morning assures the nurse that she does not consider the embryo inside her a baby.

"Not until it's developed," she says. "That would be about three months?"

"It's completely formed about nine weeks," the nurse tells her. "Yours is more like a chicken yolk."

The girl, who is five weeks pregnant, looks relieved. "Then no," she says, "it's not a baby." Her mother sits in the corner wiping her tears.


Amanda, a 20-year-old administrative assistant, says it's not the obstacles that surprise her — it's how normal and unashamed she feels as she prepares to end her first pregnancy.

"It's an everyday occurrence," she says as she waits for her 2:30 p.m. abortion. "It's not like this is a rare thing."

Amanda hasn't told her ex-boyfriend that she's 15 weeks pregnant with his child. She hasn't told her parents, either, though she lives with them.

"I figured it was my responsibility," she says.

She regrets having to pay $750 for the abortion, but Amanda says she does not doubt her decision. "It's not like it's illegal. It's not like I'm doing anything wrong," she says.

"I've been praying a lot and that's been a real source of strength for me. I really believe God has a plan for us all. I have a choice, and that's part of my plan."
(emphasis mine)
The consumerism, utilitarianism and Absolute Individualism these young women demonstrate are the walls of their own prison. They enclose themselves in denial, but their consciences will eventually confront them with the inevitable consequences of their act. They hired a "doctor" to murder their children. To save their body, their future, their whatever: their child is dead.

If this is how the Reasonable moloch-worshippers hope to promote "choice," they'll succeed only in disgusting Joe and Jane sixpack. All they need now is video-streaming!

Lord, enlighten your people!

The Catholic ReportInterviews Katelyn and Wynette Sills

Hat tip to The Trog for the link.

Dave Hartline of The Catholic Report interviews Katelyn Sills and her mother. They have grown in their faith as a result of their family's ordeal. Observe:
Dave Hartline Katelyn how has this affected your faith?

Katelyn Sills I think it has deepened my faith. I try to live my faith through such things as my blog. There’s a death penalty case here in California and I have written about why I believe the death penalty is wrong, since it goes against life. I love the Church and through all this I see the wisdom in the Church’s Teachings. I want to live it out as best I can I am not bitter at anyone. I just want to move on and I hope there can be reconciliation at Loretto as well. I loved that school. I volunteered my time to go to the Catholic grade schools to talk about Loretto and how they should go there. I learned an important lesson about faith and it’s not easy to follow the path set for us by Jesus and all the saints but I am trying to live that out.

Dave Hartline Mrs. Sills how about the faith of you and your husband?

Mrs. Sills You know as tough as it has been there has been a certain calmness that comes at times, just listening to Katelyn talk to you and the wisdom of her answers makes me proud of how she’s living her faith. I have to confess my knowledge of the faith 10 years ago was limited at best. I would contently sit through Mass and think well that homily was nice or it feels good to be here but I probably couldn’t have told you the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. My faith has grown through being involved at school. Katelyn was in a Christian school near us here until we could get her into Loretto because being out here in farm country our options were limited. My faith grew with my involvement. As I studied more about what it was I was hearing on Sunday I realized that faith is a commitment. My husband and I became Eucharistic ministers and then I became involved in quietly praying at abortion clinics. We are just trying to live out our faith and we will continue to do so. I believe blessings come with events like this and we are already experiencing them.
Say amen!

Now, read their testimony carefully one more time. Do you see it? They have a palpable sense of the Lord's presence in their lives. How did they come to experience him? They lived in relationship with him through living in the Church. They committed themselves to participating in the life of the Church. In so doing, they clearly experienced his presence in a profound way. I'm particularly struck by how radiant Ms. Sills faith has become. She understands the profound witness of truth that the Church offers than I ever did at her age. Her life testifies to the loving relationship she enjoys with her family, who clearly model discipleship for her.

When we live in communion with our brothers and sisters in the faith, we live with our Lord. If we're having a hard time finding him, we're only as far away as the communion of believers that live in his midst. Look to Katelyn Sills if we're unsure of the path. She gets it. So can we!

Upper Canada Catholic has an "Amazing link for RCIA, new Catholics"

New to the Roman Catholic Church? Not sure what priests use when they celebrate mass? Dying to find out! Well, fear not! Upper Canada Catholic has you covered!
* What is an alb? A chasuble?
* What is an ambo?
* Why does the priest where different colours on different days?
* How does the church calendar work?
* What happens at an ordination?
* How does confession work?
The site our hero has discovered is sure to meet all of your needs for clear liturgical utensil identification. Money back guarantee not included. Check it out!

The Spirit Keeps on Moving!

Pope John Paul the Great challenged communism on the only grounds in which it was vulnerable: the spiritual. His rallying of the Catholic identity of his beloved Poles launched the firestorm that was Solidarity. Well, the Spirit still moves his Church where he wills. The Vatican made the most of another opportunity to promote the Faith in the face of Communism.

NZ Herald has the story here!

In a first for communist and officially atheist Vietnam, the Vatican ordained 57 Vietnamese priests yesterday, urging them to convert more people in the southeast Asian nation to Catholicism.

"They will be like Jesus here," Cardinal Cresezio Sepe, head of the Vatican's missionary arm, told a cheering crowd of several thousand at a ceremony in Hanoi Cathedral, a Gothic edifice built by Vietnam's French colonial rulers in the heart of the capital.

"Those who have not heard about Jesus should listen to these priests," he said. "Of the 80 million Vietnamese, only 6 million are Catholics."

Sepe was the first ranking Vatican official to be allowed to ordain priests in Vietnam, a reflection of the steadily improving ties between Hanoi's communist government and the Roman Catholic Church.

Leaders of Vietnam's Catholic Church, which dates back to French colonial days, were given blanket approval to travel to Rome for the funeral of Pope John Paul II. They also received messages of sympathy from top Communist party leaders.

Before the ceremony, Sepe, in his white robes and bright red cardinal's hat, walked through the narrow streets of Hanoi, packed with thousands of well-wishers, some of whom had travelled from 150km away to witness the ordination.
A public ordination of Catholic priests in "officially atheist Vietnam!" China, take note! It's possible to reconcile free-market principles with communist state power without suppressing people's freedom of religious belief. Praise God that he has raised shepherds for his people behind the torn shards of the rusting iron curtain. May his Grace shower the Vietnamese with every blessing.

Toddler: Master of His Domain!

Rumble, music plays,
Get the perfect toy, again.
Repeat as needed!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Waiting for American Express

Tunes on the speaker,
On Hold, customer service
Takes it's own sweet time!

Catholic Fire notes that "Chief Justice Roberts to Hear First Abortion Related Case"

Jean over at Catholic Fire relays important news from Tim over at Pro-Life Blogs. SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts will hear his first abortion case on the High Court! Behold!
On Wednesday this week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Although the case centers around a New Hampshire law that requires parental notification before a minor child obtains an abortion, the broader legal issue could either open the floodgates or slam the door on future challenges to abortion laws.

Liberty Counsel's amicus brief, filed at the Supreme Court in support of the New Hampshire law, focuses on the broader impact of the Ayotte case. Beyond parental notification, the broader legal issue involves an "as applied" versus a "facial" challenge to legislation. An "as applied" challenge contests the application of a law to a specific situation, and if found unconstitutional, it is unconstitutional in that specific application. If the law can be constitutionally applied to another set of facts, it remains constitutional to that set of facts. A "facial" challenge is an exception to normal litigation and can usually only occur in a limited free speech context. Even in that context, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the law is unconstitutional in every conceivable application. This is a heavy burden to prove.
Now, we begin to see how devoted to Strict Constructionism Justice Roberts truly is. Expect the fireworks to start soon!

Gasp! The Catholic Church in Missouri Asks Catholics to be Catholic!

Reasonable enthusiast for ESCR are shocked (shocked!) that the Catholic Church still expects Catholics to be Catholic. KSDK NewsChannel 5 has the story here.

At issue is the Church's opposition to a proposed ammendment to the State's constitution. This ammendment would prohibit the criminalization of ESCR within the state. Witness the mouth-foaming that follows:
The issue of embryonic stem cell research has reached Missouri's Catholic churches. Sunday, parishioners were told not to support this kind of medical research.

Rev. Thomas Keller of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis said, "The destruction of human life, even in it's embryonic form, is something that is evil that we don't want to participate in. We want to educate our folks that there's more to the story than simply saying this is a type of research on human cells."

The message is in response to a proposed constitutional amendment to prevent any stem cell research from getting banned in Missouri.

Donn Rubin is chairman of Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures which is proposing the amendment.

Rubin said, "The legislation that was proposed in the Missouri legislature would have made criminals not only of researchers but of patients and physicians who participated in delivering therapies and cures."

Rubin said a constitutional amendment is the only way to protect stem cell research in Missouri.

"If the FDA approves a cure that's developed as being safe and effective we want to make sure Missouri patients will have access and Missouri patients and their families won't have to travel to other parts of the country to get treatments or be condemned here in Missouri to second class healthcare."

The Catholic church supports adult stem research, but not embryonic stem cell research.
Yes, Mr. Rubin, I'm certain that opponents of ESCR truly want to throw sick patients in jail along with cha-ching!-happy enthusiasts for Moloch's new cover story. It's not about taking lives, you see, it's about saving lives. And those mean religious zealots and Fools want to take that away from Reasonable people donchaknow!

It's no surprise, then, to watch Mr. Rubin go all utilitarian in his efforts to protect the Agenda:
But Rubin said the cells come from extra fertilized eggs that are no longer needed at a fertility clinic.

"It is from those which are frozen away and will either be frozen indefinitely and decay in the freezer or will be thrown away as medical waste and incinerated as medical waste. It is from that source those fertilized eggs that embryonic stem cells can be extracted."
How much mileage would Mr. Rubin's argument get if one replaced the words "fertilized eggs" with "unborn children."

Well, the Reasonable would probably sputter in rage. After all, everyone knows how Foolish it is to call a mere fertilized egg a child. Even if a fertilized egg is actually a zygot, which, incidently, develops into that phase of humanity we call childhood. If he or she is allowed to, that is.

But such language is not helpful to moving forward the Agenda. And it cuts into the cha-ching! factor, too! Can't have that, now.

Therefore, those meddlesome Catholic Clergy better no their role and keep their mouth shut on a public square issue like this! Can't leave the Square open to just any Fool, after all!

Spero News on "A spiritual consultant"

Father John McCloskey writes this primer on spiritual direction for Spero News. He begins with a useful analogy:
Open up the yellow pages of your local phone directory. There you will find listed attorneys, financial advisors, plumbers, electricians, beauticians, bankers, and even fitness trainers. All of these people know much more about their business then we do. Therefore we pay them a fee to help us in their particular specialty. Some of them become regular consultants and a few even good friends. All of their expert advice is directed towards help in this present life.

In addition you will find dozens of people listed as psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists and so on. Although these health professionals can perform a useful function, often times they serve as surrogate spiritual directors, giving erroneous or unfortunate answers for spiritual problems. Their advice depends on their particular training often based on naturalistic theories or ideologies which can do much more harm than good.

The only question truly worth asking is that of the rich young man of the Gospel, "What must I do to gain eternal life?" which leads to other questions, such as "How can I achieve holiness in this life?" or "What is God's will for me?" God answers these questions for us in many ways. Simply to follow the Ten Commandments as they are written in our hearts in natural law and come to us through God's Word is a good start, as Jesus himself advised the rich young man. We can also look to God's Revelation to us through Sacred Scripture and Tradition -- the guidance of the Church through its teaching authority and sacraments. We can then look at our present state in life and our past life experiences for good clues as to what God wants for us in any present moment.

However, in order to find answers to these questions, every Catholic should have a spiritual director. As Blessed Josemaria Escriva put it, "You wouldn't think of building a good house to live in here on earth without an architect. How can you ever hope, without a director, to build the castle of your sanctification in order to live forever in heaven?" This is true for everybody, not just for the poor, simple, or uneducated but even more for the complacently successful. Escriva goes on to say, "You think you are really somebody: your studies -- your research, your publications; your social position; your name; your political accomplishments -- the offices you hold; your wealth; your longer a child. Precisely because of all of this, you -- more than others -- need a director for your soul." You may have several or even many during the course of your life. He will provide you the answer to your many questions as our circumstances change and as we grow "in wisdom and grace." Besides he won't charge you a dime.
Fr. McCloskey offers some interesting insights on the whole process of Spiritual Direction. Check it out!

The American Princess on "Christmas for Christians"

The American Princess makes too much sense. It won't be long before Reasonable Christmas-haters kick in her door and drag her from the keyboard kicking and screaming. After all, she refuses to accept the Agenda. She will not bow down before the Absolute Individual and recognize that all there is is Nothing. She won't admit that Reasonable people can decide right from wrong based on their own criteria. They won't suffer Fools like her gladly.

That's why I join my laughter at their absurdity with hers:
No suprise, really. Leftism hates religion because your religion is your government. There is no God but the State, and you are its people. Why rely on something so simplistic as religion, the opiate of the people? All it does is make you self-reliant, hopeful, and unfortunately, adherent to a proscribed set of morals and values. Damn you, religion. You are standing in the way of all kinds of "tolerant" liberal values, from gay marriage, to abortion rights, to Universal health care. None of which happen to be very "relgious."

So they're out to banish it.

But still, without fail, every year, retailers are squeamish about putting Merry Christmas on sign, teacher rethink the holiday choir concert to exclude any mention of a holiday season, towns debate about putting a creche up in the town square. And it looks like Christians have no way out. do have a way out. And here are a few pointers*:

--There are rules in this country about private property. If its on private property, it is private property. Nobody can make you take down your own Christmas diplay if its on...get it...your property. If anyone tells you otherwise, and you do not live in a "housing community" (like an apartment, condo, etc where you have part-ownership agreements), you have every right to plaster your lawn with a giant Nativity scene, the three Wise Men, and a chorus of angels and saints, two Santas and an Easter Bunny for good measure.

--You have rights, and you should exercise them. You also have power. Accepting a banishment of Christmas from your local retailer is all in your court. It worked with Wal-Mart, it'll work with any national chain of retailers in the country. The last thing that is acceptable is acceptance: letter writing and calling might seem a little nitpicky, but if enough people do it, it not only grabs attention, it gets change. This works for most school districts, city governments, and town councils, and neighborhood watch programs.

--As the majority, its awful nice of you to include the minority, but you don't have to destroy your own life to appease it. In this country, we have a democracy (okay, its more of a republic than anything but you get what I mean), and that generally means that majority wins with minority rights, as in, they don't get to be oppressed (darn it). They can sue for those rights to a degree, as in, they can sue to be included. They can't sue to make you take the gosh darn thing down, or make you wipe Christmas from the calendar.

--The Supreme Court has ruled hundreds of times on exactly this problem, and every time, even the most religious of displays has been able to stand, so long as the minority is at least represented, or the religious display is counteracted by secular symbols of the holidays, as little as three reindeer and a plastic Santa. Relgious displays are definitely allowed.

--The NEA, and your childs teacher know what they are doing. So does your school. Call them on it.

--Your faith isn't shameful. And you have every right under the First Amendment to express it. Anyone who tells you otherwise risks a lawsuit.

--There are groups out there that will file those lawsuits FOR FREE. As in, no cost to you. You don't have to pay legal fees, lawyer expenses, or even give then a "holiday gift." They just do it. To protect you. FOR FREE.

And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Watch the Reasonable Christmas-haters sputter and mouth-foam as Fools demand their rights be respected. Oh, the wailing and gnashing of teeth as Christians call for Christmas to come out of the closet of "tolerance." Oh, the denial once again of their Absolute Individualist: Oh, the humanity!

Keep laughing, Fools! Keep laughing! Remember the famous words again of Robert Duvall:
"I love the smell of napalm in the smells like victory!"

How Many More Prophets Will We Ignore?

Will we walk on by another Voice that "cries out in the wilderness?" For indeed, Pope Benedict XVI cries out in the midst of this wilderness we can only call Western Civilization. Get the story here.

The essentials:
The pope, welcomed the recent enactment of Sudan's new Constitution - the result of a peace accord between Khartoum's Muslim authorities and the mainly Christian and animist former rebels in the country's south - as an opportunity and duty for the Catholic Church to "contribute significantly to the process of forgiveness and national reconstruction."

"Though a minority, Catholics have much to offer through inter-religious dialogue as well as the provision of greatly needed social services. I encourage you therefore to take the necessary initiatives to realise Christ’s healing presence in these ways," he told Wako.

However, the pope said he felt compelled to "add my voice to the cry of the suffering" in Darfur, adding that the Vatican will continue to do everything possible to "end the cycle of violence and misery."

More than 200,000 people have been killed in the Western region of Darfur since fighting broke out in March last year between the mainly African local population, government troops and government-backed Arab militias. Recent attempts to find a negotiated solution have been hampered by clashes between the two main rebel groups and continued raids by the Arab Janjaweed militias
How long, O Lord, how long? When will we turn our face to you again? When will we remember your name and praise you before all nations? When will we stop ignoring the cries of your children, calling out in our midst? Forgive us, O Lord, for we have failed you yet again! Forgive us, and strengthen us to stand for the justice your children deserve. Help us to stand fast for you and be true!

Pope Benedict XVI Celebrates the Advent of Advent has the story here!

A close-up:
The pontiff addressed the crowds in St. Peter's Square during his traditional Sunday blessing that also marked the beginning of Advent, which starts four Sundays before Christmas and is the beginning of the ecclesiastical year.

"We could say that Advent is the time when Christians should awaken in their hearts the hope that they can change the world, with the help of God," Benedict said.

Advent is "a time of great religious inspiration, because it is steeped in hope and spiritual expectation," Benedict said.
How can we change the world? Most of us our lucky if we can change our underwear--as in find a clean pair waiting for us. Change the world? Is this Pope kidding?

No. He's serious. He's also right. We can change the world.

In fact, we Christians have done that before.

Just ask twelve Galilean fishermen. They probably have some strong opinions as to what any of us can accomplish with God's help.

We can do what they've done through the same methodology. We can witness to Christ, the Savior of the World. We can allow others to discover his Presence when we act according to the Spirit that he's given us. We can encourage others to find in him the exceptionality that changes their lives. We do this by being those through whom they encounter Christ.

That means doing the things we've been called to do all along. Love our neighbor as ourself. Give the best of ourselves to everyone our lives touch. Share the joy in our hearts that comes from communion with our beloved. Sing. Show our gratitude for the precious gift of himself that we receive daily. Bear the light that he shines into the world through our commitment to him.

We change the world every time we allow Christ to be present in the world through our witness. Twelve uneducated fishermen from a provincial backwater carried on the movement of faith that today claims two billion disciples. And we today believe we can't change the world?

We change it every day, for better or worse. Let's change it for him, beginning this Advent. Ultreya!

The Weekly Darfur: A Tolerable Genocide

The Coalition for Darfur has the weekly post here!

I have a confession to make. I missed the Coalition's post from last week. Sloppy, I know. It won't happen again.

Here it goes:
Who would have thought that a genocide could become worse? But after two years of heartbreaking slaughter, rape and mayhem, the situation in Darfur is now spiraling downward.

More villages are again being attacked and burned -- over the last week thatch-roof huts have been burning near the town of Gereida and far to the northwest near Jebel Mun.

Aid workers have been stripped, beaten and robbed. A few more attacks on aid workers, and agencies may pull out -- leaving the hapless people of Darfur with no buffer between themselves and the butchers.

The international community has delegated security to the African Union, but its 7,000 troops can't even defend themselves, let alone protect civilians. One group of 18 peacekeepers was kidnapped last month, and then 20 soldiers sent to rescue them were kidnapped as well; four other soldiers and two contractors were killed in a separate incident.

What will happen if the situation continues to deteriorate sharply and aid groups pull out? The U.N. has estimated that the death toll could then rise to 100,000 a month.

The turmoil has also infected neighboring Chad, which is inhabited by some of the same tribes as Sudan. Diplomats and U.N. officials are increasingly worried that Chad could tumble back into its own horrific civil war as well.

This downward spiral has happened because for more than two years, the international community has treated this as a tolerable genocide. In my next column, my last from Darfur, I'll outline the steps we need to take. But the essential starting point is outrage: a recognition that countering genocide must be a global priority.

It's true that a few hundred thousand deaths in Darfur -- a good guess of the toll so far -- might not amount to much in a world where two million a year die of malaria. But there is something special about genocide. When humans deliberately wipe out others because of their tribe or skin color, when babies succumb not to diarrhea but to bayonets and bonfires, that is not just one more tragedy. It is a monstrosity that demands a response from other humans. We demean our own humanity, and that of the victims, when we avert our eyes.

Already, large swaths of Darfur are so unsafe that they are ''no go'' areas for humanitarian organizations -- meaning that we don't know what horrors are occurring in those areas. But we have some clues.

There are widespread reports that the janjaweed, the government-backed Arab marauders who have been slaughtering members of several African tribes, sometimes find it convenient not to kill or expel every last African but to leave a few alive to grow vegetables and run markets. So they let some live in exchange for protection money or slave labor.

One Western aid worker in Darfur told me that she had visited an area controlled by janjaweed. In public, everyone insisted -- meekly and fearfully -- that everything was fine.

Then she spoke privately to two sisters, both of the Fur tribe. They said that the local Fur were being enslaved by the janjaweed, forced to work in the fields and even to pay protection money every month just to be allowed to live. The two sisters said that they were forced to cook for the janjaweed troops and to accept being raped by them.

Finally, they said, their terrified father had summoned the courage to beg the janjaweed commander to let his daughters go. That's when the commander beheaded the father in front of his daughters.

''They told me they just wanted to die,'' the aid worker remembered in frustration. ''They're living like slaves, in complete and utter fear. And we can't do anything about it.''

That aid worker has found her own voice, by starting a blog called ''Sleepless in Sudan'' in which she describes what she sees around her. It sears at, without the self-censorship that aid groups routinely accept as the price for being permitted to save lives in Darfur.

Our leaders still haven't found their voices, though. Congress has even facilitated the genocide by lately cutting all funds for the African Union peacekeepers in Darfur; we urgently need to persuade Congress to restore that money.

So what will it take? Will President Bush and other leaders discover some backbone if the killing spreads to Chad and the death toll reaches 500,000? One million? God forbid, two million?

How much genocide is too much?
We stand condemned by our silence if we do nothing. Our leadership must hear from us how horrified we are that yet another genocide occurs unchallenged. The carnage in Darfur is no less a threat to liberty than the insidious operations of Al Qaeda. Indeed, if the violence that escalates in the Darfur region spills over into Chad, then how much longer will it be before both nations become the fertile ground for islamofascists? Is the intelligence that Sudan provides worth the hundreds of thousands--and millions--that have died and will die? Is it worth opening a new front in the Global War on Terror.

The last thing our nation should tolerate is the cultural lag of applied cold war thinking. Our nation tolerated dictatorships that declared themselves against communism. Our practice of Realpolitic may have helped end the threat of the Soviet Union to the World; it also perpetrated the cognitive dissonence from which our nation still suffers. The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave used its resources to fund Kleptocrats and corrupt thugs simply because they claimed they opposed Stalinism.

Are we making the same mistake with Sudan as an "Ally" in the Global War on Terror? What unintended consequences will we unleash then?

Certainly one: we will place ourselves under God's judgement yet again. For we have the resources and the military assets to prevent Sudan from continuing its rampage. We have the influence within NATO and the UN to pressure Sudan into compliance. We have the moral and economic high ground through which we can coerce Sudan into abandoning its genocidal policies. If we do not exercise this power in the ultimate preferential option for the poor, then we become the ones driving nails into Christ again. Make no mistake about it: Christ is present among his suffering brothers and sisters in Darfur. If we ignore them, we ignore our Savior. Exactly how will that end well for us?

Yes, I know that Europe is as culpable for this grave sin against humanity as the US. I don't vote in European elections. My leaders rule with my consent; if I don't knock their electoral-sniffing heads together, they'll pay me no mind and continue their mindless pursuit of this morally bankrupt appeasement. European Parliments and Eurocrats could care less what I think; my congress and president don't have a choice.

Awaken our leadership to our disgust with Sudan's house of horrors. Demand that this administration make authentic efforts to end this genocide. Accept nothing less than the might of the United States of America leading the world in standing behind the words, "Never again!"

Let's make those words mean something before the last victims of the latest genocide perish. For a change.

Playing Dogs and Cats

Frankie plays the dog,
Pounces Mommy, crying cat,
"No crying," he says.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Saturday Night Bliss

Passion long embraced,
Rest quietly, long day spent,
Peaceful at the last.

North Western Windson "Unsatisfactory"

The Great Bard of the North is impressed with the Maverick Philosopher's first in a promising series of posts.
By radically defective and fundamentally unsatisfactory, I mean that the dis-ease of our condition goes right to the root of it, and so cannot be dealt with by any half-way measures. In particular, no one who is religious could possibly believe that the fundamental malaise of our condition could be alleviated by any sort of human social action no matter how concerted or revolutionary. We need help, and if any truly ameliorative help is to come it must come from elsewhere, from beyond the human-all-too-human. A religious person can and must take action now and again to right wrongs and make piecemeal improvements in the conditions of his own life and those of others; but no religious person could be an activist if an activist is one who believes that humanity has the resources within itself to bring about any such fundamental and lasting improvement in the human condition as the elimination of war. For this reason, Communism is not a religion, though it is in many ways like a religion and functions in many as a substitute for religion.
The Philosopher's iron strikes at the heart of our collective existential angst. He observes that the "fundamental malaise of our condition" has no exclusively human solution. We all face the abyss. Nothing in our human accomplishments can overcome death. In our hearts we know: Something's wrong. We yearn for the fullness of Presence, which alone will fill the need we experience daily.

I, too, look forward to how the Maverick Philosopher develops his intriguing thesis. Check back for updates; I'll post them when he has them.

Shepherding the Universal Church

"Benedict is quietly making his mark" says the International Herald Tribune

Take a closer look:
The first seven months of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate had been so quiet, lacking a single defining act, that a thought began to nag: Was it possible that Benedict, 78, so contentious as a cardinal and so full of ideas, would turn out a mere caretaker pope?

He seemed to raise the possibility himself.

"My personal mission is not to issue many new documents," he told a television interviewer last month. Rather, he wanted to assure that the many works of Pope John Paul II were "assimilated, because they are a rich treasure."

Then Tuesday, the first major document of his pontificate leaked out, banning most gay men from the priesthood. For many church experts, the document was an overdue sign that Benedict would, in fact, be an active pope - though perhaps quieter, more deliberative and more surprising than many expected when this very subtle man who had been called "God's Rottweiler" by his critics took office.

"The previous pope was characterized by great symbolic gestures," said Sandro Magister, one of Italy's leading Vatican analysts. "Benedict XVI is not looking for symbolic acts.

"John Paul II wrote headlines," he said. "Benedict is writing the novel."

One Roman Catholic layman with ties to the Vatican, speaking anonymously because he does not want to endanger those ties, said, "The impression is that he is not, let's say, governing too much.

"But nevertheless, changes are happening," he said.

On one level, the document on gay seminarians would appear to be a strong opening move, very much in the character of Benedict, who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger served for two decades as John Paul's conservative defender of the faith.

It seemed to confirm expectations among liberal Catholics that the pope is aiming at doctrinal rigidity and among conservatives that doctrine would finally be observed.

But as many church experts point out, the document about gay seminarians was begun under John Paul as long as a decade ago. They also note that it was issued slightly at a distance - not from Benedict personally, but through the Vatican department in charge of Catholic education.

Many experts say Benedict's first encyclical, scheduled for release in early December, is likely to be more illuminating. The few hints that have leaked out suggest that it will not address contentious social issues like abortion or euthanasia but will be a meditation on returning Christ to the center of church and human life.

One thing seems certain about Benedict's rule:

Although he remains deeply conservative - and has strongly affirmed John Paul's positions against abortion, homosexuality and secularism - he will not be easy to pigeonhole.

A case in point was Benedict's decision to invite the Reverend Hans Küng, the liberal Swiss theologian barred by John Paul from teaching in Catholic schools, for a four-hour chat and dinner at the summer papal palace.

John Paul refused for years to meet with Küng. The meeting with so prominent a liberal dissident, whom Benedict has known for decades, seemed all the more notable given his earlier meetings with high-profile conservatives like Oriana Fallaci, the Italian writer critical of John Paul for not being tough enough against militant Islam.

"Considering the shrewdness with which this pope moves, there is no doubt that these are important signs, if not easily decipherable," the Italian newspaper La Stampa said in September.
Pope John Paul the Great worked very hard to remind the world that the Church would remain as a witness to the Truth. Pope Benedict XVI works hard to ensure that the world understand how committed a witness she remains. If people look to understand this Pope by looking through the tired paradigm of secular (read "Euro-American") politics, they will fail to comprehend him in the slightest. That's not how this Pope--or any Pope--operate. Pope Benedict XVI has described himself as a laborer in the vineyard of the Lord. His commitment to the Church is that she always place Christ at the center of her being: worship, formation, identity. Benedict offers the world Christ.

To the extent that the political implications of his message are liberal or conservative is the extent of how Christ corrects the world's secular excesses. No one's political sacred cows are safe from goring if they do not graze on the good grass of Reality. Natural law--as an expression of who God and his creation are--matters. The sanctity of all human life matters. Complementarity of the sexes matters. The inalienable dignity of all humanity matters. The just ordering of society matters. Solidarity with the poor and marginalized of all societies matter. Subsidiarity as the cornerstone of well-ordered society matters. Family, community and free association of all persons matter. When any ideology says any of them don't, it's wrong. It's origin on the political axis of our time is irrelevent.

No one will understand any pope if he views him simply as another Statesman or politician. If you truly want to understand any Pope--and especially Benedict XVI--then understand this: Popes are shepherds. Just ask the first one:
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."
16 He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."
17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." (Jesus) said to him, "Feed my sheep.
Popes do as our Master has commanded. That's why they're called Vicars of Christ. And Christ told all of them, through his testimony to the first one, to feed and tend his lambs and sheep. In other words, shepherd them for the Good Shepherd.

How does that translate into the terms the world understands?

It means Popes take revelation seriously. They don't see it as a mere construction of human knowledge derived from past-down traditions. It doesn't mean they use it as a justification for their own worldly power. It certainly doesn't mean they cheapen it by turning it into a political platform. It means that they accept revelation for what it is: God's demonstration of his will for our lives.

It means that Popes act in order to present this revelation to all and to safeguard it from human attempts to misinterprete it into nonsense. Popes accept seriously their grave responsibility for the souls entrusted to the Church. He knows well that Christ lives among his people in the Church. He understands that he needs to nourish those people on the food Christ has given them--himself. He therefore acts in the ways that nurture and mature the Church, so that her members can more profoundly become who she already is: the Bride of Christ.

It means that Popes work to help the Church carry out her mission in the world: to bear witness to Christ and draw all to him. This means speaking out against injustice to certain parties at certain times. This also means calling her members--and authorities--to account. This means clarifying her doctrine and pastoral ministry. This means exercising the Pope's office as teacher and final authority.

This is what it means for a Pope to be a shepherd. Understand this if you want to truly understand who Pope Benedict XVI is and what he's accomplishing. Any other paradigm fails to grasp the entire picture.

The New Berchet Blog Addresses Evil

The New Berchet Blog shares a question one of our friends raised after the November 20th NYC CLC Community Day. Ken asks:
I can see that both they and we have the potential to be scandalized by this reality - that God chooses the a human reality to communicate Himself to us - a human reality full of limitations. However, there is one thing that we potentially experience in our encounter with the Church that the first disciples and apostles did not - evil. Christ never inflicted evil upon anyone, as we believe. Yet, we know that we can receive evil from another member of the Church. How are our experiences the same when you take into account that those of us today who encounter the church can encounter evil beings in it- cheats, murderers, liars, adulterers, etc. Yet, those who encountered Christ did not experience any of those things. Now, perhaps the things Christ did were perceived as evil by those encountering him (Pharisees), but that was because they were predisposed not to believe. And there may have been things that Christ said and did which offended at first, but anyone continuing the relationship with Him would have found out that everything He said and did was for their ultimate good, fulfillment and happiness (e.g.. Canaanite woman). If I receive evil from a church member, how can I be having the same experience as the first disciples?
Monsignor Albacete responds:
First of all, we must always remember that at all times we are encountering a Reality (the Mystery that fascinates our religious sense) that exceeds our capacity to grasp it totally, not only with the mind, but also with the is a matter of awakening in us a "loving knowledge." The first followers of Christ encountered this Mystery through his human presence. We encounter this very same human presence in our encounter with the human reality called the Church. We encounter His sinlessness through an encounter with sinners! Christ and the Church are not the same.What is exactly the same is the method of encountering the Mystery. Christ himself said that no one recognizes him or follows him "unless the Father" wills it so. To Peter he said it was the Father that had revealed to him the Mystery of his identity! Then as now it is the Father (through the Spirit) that is inviting and enabling our freedom to accept His presence, through a concrete human reality.
Ken's question pierces the heart of disciples. We've literally bet our temporal and eternal lives on Christ, and we're told we can find his presence among his believers. How do we reconcile that with our all-to-human experience of fallible believers? What are we to make of a Church that is both his mystical body and the occasion of scandal and sin?

We're to experience Christ in the fullness of his presence among us. That means we will also experience him crucified. When we suffer evil at the hands of other members of the Church, we participate in his crucifixion. We face the same opportunity and temptation that he did while dying on the cross: to forgive those that trespass against us or not. Jesus of Nazareth lived and died as the limited, human means through whom the disciples encountered the mystery of Christ. Not that there ever was any division between God and man in Christ Jesus; of course not! There was, instead, the paradox of an all-powerful Lord participating in life--and death--as a powerless man. The infinite God ultimately reveals himself through his own limited creation. The Church continues to serve the role that Christ himself inaugurated. In spite of the limitations of her members--including her most notorious sinners--the Church allows us to encounter Christ, the Mystery of God reconciling himself with his creation. Thus, we find that we haven't bet wrong, even when the sins of the Church's members rise like a furious Tsunami.

If we truly take Christ's incarnation seriously, then we'll recognize an important fact. We come to Christ through his cross, drawn by the Father in heaven who summons us. We can't face the Cross honestly without recognizing our own responsibility for it. Therefore, we can't authentically encounter Christ if we don't experience the fundamental humiliation that we're not God. We don't walk on water. We don't fashion our own morality. We sin against our neighbor even when we intend good for him. We allow our passions to distract us from our intentions. We are the terminal patients of the hospital that is the Church, awaiting the treatment of the only Physician that may heal us. Before we wonder whether or not Christ can truly be present in the Church when her members sin, we should count ourselves among those members that sin. Then, instead of bewilderment at the concept of a marred Bride of Christ mediating him to the world, we can praise God in gratitude for the Mercy he gives us so freely.

Clairity's Place on "Stability and Community"

Clairity, over at Clairity's Place, reflects on St. Benedict's true contribution to the Church: institutionalized stability.

Along with his rule of obedience and conversion of life, he introduced the vow of stability which tied his monks to their monasteries. This vow was a built-in antidote to the kind of spiritual wandering that caters to personal taste. Stability meant that no man was left behind. Even when monasteries were attacked and burned to the ground, the monks rebuilt and replanted their crops and continued. Around the monastery, families settled down and built their lives again. Stability was responsible for preserving and rebuilding a new society out of the ruins of a fallen civilization.
But why is this stability so important? Without it, we can't live the communal life through which we best live our Christianity. Without community, we live in isolation, longing for the God that has told us, "When two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst."
As long as we can flit according to our whims, we cannot experience the satisfaction of a complete belonging which embraces us in every circumstance, even the most difficult. We can build nothing this way, because we never get past the ephemeral to reach into the core of living. We can only know the universal by living deeply the particular. This belonging that stability represents underlines our necessary dependence, our true condition in front of God, but also before the human community. For all our illusions of competence, we are each of us dependent on others for our most basic material and spiritual needs. And our continuous restlessness is in fact a desire for God who alone can fill our hearts as we stop still and let Him.
If we're to live our faith, we need to take the incarnation seriously. Our Lord's decision to live among us as one of us is his profound affirmation of fellowship. He chose to live in community because that's how he manifests the very life the Blessed Trinity share.

Stability allows community to prosper. When we stay, we come to know those with whom we stay. When we stay, we share our lives through the passage of time. We learn how to live with those neighbors that find new ways of pressing our buttons. We face a sea of opportunities to forgive and seek forgiveness. We can constantly pour out our hearts in charity. If we want to experience genuine community with another soul, we need to put in the time. The commitment to stay ensures that we put in that time.

The Change

Sing Old MacDonald,
Soiled Diaper, exchanged for
A fresh, dry pamper.

Friday, November 25, 2005


Experience Joy
In the little miracles
Of our lives each day.

The Memes Just Keep Coming!

Rick Lugari of De Civitate Dei and Ron Rolling over at A Wing and a Prayer have memed me with the Birthday Scripture verse. As Rick says:
Simply enough, quote the Gospel verses of your birthday.
Well, as he commands:
Matthew 11:11
Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 8
Mark 11:11
He entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area. He looked around at everything and, since it was already late, went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Luke 11:11
What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?
John 11:11
He said this, and then told them, "Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him."
Now, the real fun. Who will become my victims recipients?

Ah, yes!

Jonathan Bennett
Jack Bennett
The Sheepcat

Enjoy, all!

On The Other Hand, Foolish Approval of the Document

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights offers a Foolish response to the document. Catholic News Agency has the story.

The Vatican document says that while homosexuals must be respected, the Catholic Church “cannot admit to seminaries and to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, who present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or who support the so-called gay culture.” Donohue said most practicing Catholics would welcome this decision.

“The Vatican is prudent not to have an absolute ban on admission of homosexuals to the priesthood: there are too many good men with homosexual tendencies who have served the Church with distinction,” said Donohue.

“But there is a monumental difference between someone who is incidentally homosexual and someone for whom the gay subculture is central to his identity,” Donohue pointed out. “Only those blinded by sexual politics will fail to make this distinction.”
Mr. Donohue gets it exactly right. Foolables to the right and left of the Church do not. Ironically, they both share the same distorted perception that Mr. Donohue correctly condemns: seeing no difference between someone with SSA and someone that self-identifies as gay. Calling for an outright ban of all men with homosexual attraction (SSA and gay) or demanding that gay men, who celebrate what the Church condemns, be allowed into Holy orders express the same profound error. They accept as a given that a person is what their tendencies to behave make them.

The Church sees the situation differently. She recognizes that temptation is not sin. She understands that those suffering from SSA and committed to chastity may worthily serve her and Christ. She also sees that those with SSA that celebrate their gay identity lack the willingness to commit to her or Christ.

May more Fools stand with her.

Update: Amy Welborn also demonstrates the wisdom of the Document:

Already, the discussion has taken a sharp turn into Self-Pity and Oppression land. The self-identified "gay priests" have been trotted out, the sensitive have started mourning for their demeaned brothers who might be swept up in the "deep homosexual inclinations" net. And this is a reaction that was thoroughly predictable.

This is why I have never been an enthusiast for the simple view of "don't let homosexuals be ordained" idea. Well, one of the reasons, the other being that in two thousand years of church history there have been men who have homosexual tendencies or SSA, or what ever you would call it, who have been ordained, have not caused any trouble, and have, like anyone else, aspired to holiness. We've had this discussion before.

But the other reason is simply that when it comes to guidelines, as reasonable as it might seem to do the "no homosexuals in the seminary thing," it doesn't get at the problem. The problem is not, in simple terms, the homosexual priest. The problem is priests who don't believe what the Catholic Church teaches on sexuality, who don't preach it, who don't witness to it in the confessional, and who don't live it in their private lives.

Do you see the difference?

Check out the whole post!

Update II: The Upper Canada Catholic has a Foolish response as well:
So let’s summarize the Instruction by its corollary; here is a list of men who can be admitted to the priesthood:
  • Men who are not really homosexuals, but only acted-out in sexual immaturity more than three years prior to vocation;
  • Men who may very well be homosexual, but are celibate, do not support the gay culture and whose homosexuality is something other than “deep-seated.” As the Instruction is silent on what “deep-seated” means, this will be left to the local Ordinary to discern on a case-by-case basis. Sounds fair and flexible to me.
The Instruction appears to me to be well thought out, based on common sense, and is consistent with the teachings of the Catechism. It affords all candidates an opportunity to be assessed for priestly vocation on their individual merits, regardless of sexual orientation. Above all, it does not constitute a sweeping bar on homosexuals in the priesthood. No doubt some will be disappointed, but I am sure they will unite in support of the Holy Father.
Again, read it all!

Reasonable/ Foolable Mouth-Foamers of the Left on the Document

See, that didn't take long. Already, the Reasonable celebrants of the One Thing that Matters (2.0) have decried the "witchhunt" instituded by the Vatican.

The Australian's Jacquelynne Willcox says Purge of gays will not help Vatican [November 25, 2005]

It's difficult to parse the muddled rhetoric that follows. Ms. Willcox extraordinary ignorance of Catholicism borders on the invincible. Additionally, like far too many Reasonable pundits, she believes that because something ought-to-be, it therefore is. Just take a look at the drivel close up:
AT a time when a significant group of thinkers in the Catholic Church are seriously searching for ways to make priestly vocations more user friendly, others are on a witch-hunt to make them less attractive to a core group ideally suited to the lifestyle: gay men.

Indeed, there must certainly be a significant group of Australian priests and brothers busily praying for divine protection from the church's latest crusade to rid its parish of the hordes of homosexuals its own princes only recently encouraged.

For it is only 10 years or so since some Sydney seminarians were being told not to worry about their homosexuality. Like married and even women priests, the progressives asserted, homosexuality would be overtly, rather than covertly, accepted as an optional priestly lifestyle. I understand that policy relaxation has recently been abandoned, in Sydney seminaries at least.

In the meantime, the wise men at the Vatican who ordered, and are carrying out a purge of homosexual - celibate and active - men appear to have confused homosexuality with pedophilia and sexual abuse. In their zeal to correct and avoid the sins of their past, they have set upon a group particularly well suited to the extraordinary counter-culture that the priesthood is. That is to say, a life without women and children.

It must be no surprise, then, that many successful, devoted and well-functioning gay priests and seminarians fear what will become of them. After all, their chosen careers have provided well-established, near-perfect paths for men seeking to serve God while protected in an exclusively male world.
Priests live "in an exlusively male world?" Since when have parishes become gender exclusive? I didn't get the memo. Great. Another thing to add to the "To-Do list": find a parish for the Blushing Bride!

And don't you just love that loaded rhetoric, like "purge" and "set upon." Indeed, her poor understanding of how counter-cultural the "priestly lifestyle" is rests on the mere accident that priests vow to remain unmarried. Oh, for a catechism that actually forms Catholics in their faith! Or for a faithful Catholic that will make it to Ms. Willcox's roledex!

But, I digress.

Ms. Willcox has already demonstrated the point I made here. Extremists will condemn the Church for not enshrining their ideology on homosexual activity into Canon Law and Pastoral practice. I have to laugh. For once again, God has chosen the Foolish to confound the wise. How amazing that encouraging candidates to affirm and proclaim the faith--not their favorite interpretation of it--should be such a controversial standard to today's Reasonable wise men!

Now, when will the Velvet Mafia RICO squad of com-box commandos voice their opposition to the Church's appeasement of gays? Will I have to wait a day? More? Stay tuned!

Update: David Morrison slices apart another Foolable's mouth-foaming:

Father Gerard Thomas is a Catholic Priest who has publicly self-identified as gay and who, therefore, finds himself on the wrong side of guidelines for the sorts of men the Church seeks for seminary and eventual ordination. Not surprisingly, he is not thrilled about it.

Some of the things he says in the Beliefnet column really do need to be unpacked a bit.

First, no matter how it is applied or interpreted or read by superiors and seminary rectors, this document will have the immediate effect of turning away any gay man who understands that he is gay. Any healthy, emotionally mature gay man will more than likely identify himself as someone with "deeply rooted homosexual tendencies," in the words of the Instruction.

Or, in other words, any man who live with same sex attraction and who accepts the gay movement's understanding and ideology of what that is and means will so identify himself. Notice in Father Thomas view there is no room for anyone who might acknowledge that he lives with SSA but does not accept Thomas' labeling.

This sort of thinking is precisely the sort of opinion I don't want in a priest because from there it is only one small step to the confessional where the same priest whispers into the ears of the man or woman with same sex attraction that they what they really need to do is find themselves a same sex partner.

Please further notice the put down deployed in advance to inoculate Father Thomas from criticism...Men who are gay in Thomas view but refuse to self-identify as gay cannot be considered healthy and emotionally mature.

The "application" of the document, even the portion of the document that says that rectors are ultimately responsible for their men, will be largely meaningless, for this simple reason: Few emotionally mature gay applicants these days will want to enter.

Again, if the definition of emotionally mature means a candidate accepts the ideology that says the same sex attraction he experiences should be viewed as an unqualified good thing or part his creation and that he should self-identify as gay, I can only hope that this document means fewer men with this mindset will want to enter.

But there's more.

The only gay men who will enter will be either clueless, closeted, or lying. This is a disastrous way to prepare men for healthy life as a priest, and gives rise to the very environment that everyone wanted to avoid: the repressed, fearful seminary where sexuality is a forbidden topic.

Or, in the world that doesn't revolve around self-identified gay priests, men who might live with a degree of same sex attraction but who accept the church's teaching that it is an objective disorder and understand that it is only a part of their entire humanity might find enough room to study and become priests without being run out of seminary by self-identified gay seminarians and others who do not believe what the Church teaches.

Bizarrely, the document also contradicts the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which not only says that gay men should be celibate, but can be celibate.)

Actually, that is not what the Catechism teaches. It feels odd to have to remind a priest of this, but the Catechism teaches that men and women living with SSA are called to chastity, not celibacy, and of the two chastity is the far deeper and more difficult virtue. Celibacy is merely a promise not to marry, chastity is the virtue of purity of heart and body. I have sadly known priests in the past who are completely celibate but no where near living chastely.

Read the whole thing!

Another Shepherd Shows his Spine

The Boston Globe has the story here. Archbishop O'Malley of Boston has declined an invitation to Catholic Charities' annual Christmas dinner. The reason? He found it more important to take a stand for the Catholic Church's true social doctrine then for the "Seamless Garment" certain foolables still shamelessly promote.

Take a closer look:
Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley has canceled plans to attend the annual Christmas dinner for Catholic Charities next month because the event is honoring Mayor Thomas M. Menino, a supporter of Catholic Charities who has also been an outspoken advocate of abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

O'Malley's decision came after a conservative Catholic group, the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, called on Roman Catholics to boycott the fund-raiser to send a message that Catholic leaders in public office should not be honored if they ignore the Vatican's teachings on major social issues.

Some Catholics had argued that such a boycott would only hurt the poor who are served by Catholic Charities, an arm of the archdiocese that provides discounted fuel, food, and other basic services to 150,000 needy people every year. But O'Malley's decision puts him squarely among those who argued that to honor Menino at the fund-raiser would be to contravene the most basic precepts of Catholicism.

Also yesterday, in a letter sent to the nearly 300 parishes of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, O'Malley called for Catholics to join in eradicating prejudice against homosexuals. The letter, issued before the Vatican's expected announcement next week of a policy banning gays from entering the priesthood, was sent a day after Catholic Charities announced the archbishop would not be attending their annual dinner.

''In light of the Mayor's past statements concerning abortion and same-sex marriage policies, the Archbishop regrets that he cannot attend the dinner," said a statement dated Tuesday by Catholic Charities. ''In doing this he acts in accord with the US Catholic Bishops policy regarding public officials who are in conflict with Catholic teaching on specific issues, a policy formulated at plenary session of the Bishops' conference in June of 2004."

The bishops' statement said Catholic organizations should not provide honors for Catholic leaders who publicly contravene the faith's teachings. A similar call by Catholic clergy during the 2004 presidential campaign led some church leaders to say that US Senator John F. Kerry should not have been given Communion because he is an active supporter of abortion rights.

Seth Gitell, a spokesman for Menino, said that ''the mayor understands the difficult position the archbishop is in, particularly given the position of the bishops' conference. At the same time, the mayor looks forward to an important, vibrant event that focuses on his core mission and the core mission of Catholic Charities -- helping people."
The Zeitgest of this age has already seduced so many Fools. Polls of Catholics on the issue of abortion sadly reveal few discrepencies between their responses and the answers of the population as a whole. This is especially true of those Catholics that fail to attend Mass at least once a week. That's why the Archbishop's courageous stance will be seen as mere Foolishness by some.

Particularly the Foolable and Reasonable elite:
One commentator said that the notion of trying to uphold the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion and marriage, in this case, appears to undermine the church's mission to aid the poor.

''It seems to be a bit of a contradiction," said Thomas O'Connor, a Boston College history professor who has written extensively on the relationship between the Catholic Church and City Hall in Boston. ''People who are pledged to the right to life are adopting a policy that will, in effect, be denying the raising of money for Catholic Charities, whose function is to prolong life."
How ironic: Professor O'Connor believes that a stance that demands integrity from Catholics is a contradiction of the Catholic mission. He appears convinced that, as long as CC raises money to "prolong life," they should secure cooperation from anyone that antes up. There's a hippopotomus in his argument that demands exposure. It's this: who will take the Church seriously if her works do not reflect her faith? Who will see Christ's presence if those that gather in his name refuse to honor his compassion to the marginalized--beginning with the unwanted unborn? Who will bother to heed the Church's call to live in Christ through the pursuit of a moral life if she won't consistently teach her own social doctrine in word and action? The Professor O'Connors of the world would have all of us pay no attention to the Kennedy-recyler behind the curtain. Unfortunately, most of the world's already looking there.

Archbishop O'Malley should be commended for his decision. His action demands consistency from Catholics in Public life--and from Catholic institutions that honor them. He ensures the legion that observe Bostion that the Church stands by all, and means all of what she preaches. He has allowed everyone to catch a glimpse of Christ through his demonstration of integrity. May more Shepherds follow his example!

After the Feast

Cries throughout the night,
Toddler's stirring in our bed:
Queen's not large enought!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Giving Thanks

Golden Turkey rests,
Ready to be devoured
By twenty-three guests,

Hungry family
Anxious to give thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving

Mark Shea, quoting Secret Agent Man, perfectly expresses the gratitude I feel towards my country:
As the day nears, and preparations leave me little time to write, let me just say that I thank God for allowing me to be part of the United States of America. There are so many things to cherish in this country. I, like other patriots, spend more time and ascii being vexed at her flaws. But even those flaws are mostly the excesses of her virtues:

I love America's pragmatism, but not her amorality;

I love her undauntable courage, but not her fickle wrath;

I love America's enthusiasm for the individual, not her cawing maelstrom of egotism;

I love her speedy power, but not her heedless arrogance;

I love America's optimism, but not her vanity;

I love her free and easy ways, but not her licentious indifference . . . .

I love her.

And I thank God that my life is forever written into her story, however small my thread may be. I could not imagine my life as an English life, or a story from the subcontinent or the vast reaches of Asia. I am an American in my bones and in my blood. Uproot me, and I would die from pining.

God bless the United States of America. I would rather be a citizen of the United States of America than a king or noble in any other country. Good Russians or Thais will feel no slight, for they, too, are justly proud of their homelands, and will never be chagrined at the destiny of their births. But the cathedral of the nations spreads God's design across many colors and forms. And so I taste a light that Europe or Africa will never know, and shout with joy.
Pope John Paul the Great taught us all the line between patriotism and extreme nationalism. He proudly embraced his Polish nationality and culture while never idolizing it. I strive to uphold that standard. The truth is that I am grateful to be an American citizen. For all of my nation's faults, she truly stands astride the world as a beacon of hope for many. She is the only nation in the world whose nationality is not one of ethnicity of race, but of creed--as G.K. Chesterton observed long ago. Whatever the excessess of her people, America's children know that they have the freedom to become whoever they want to become. That is a gift for which all Americans can rightly give thanks.

On that note, let me wish each and every one of you a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. May your celebration of gratitude bring joy to your hearts. See you all soon!

The Curt Jester on "The First Thanksgiving"

The Curt Jester has his annual surprise for Plymouth zealots.
When on September 8, 1565 Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and his 800 Spanish settlers founded the settlement of St. Augustine in La Florida, the landing party celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving, and, afterward, Menéndez laid out a meal to which he invited as guests the native Seloy tribe who occupied the site.

The celebrant of the Mass was St. Augustine’s first pastor, Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, and the feast day in the church calendar was that of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What exactly the Seloy natives thought of those strange liturgical proceedings we do not know, except that, in his personal chronicle, Father Lopez wrote that “the Indians imitated all they saw done.”

What was the meal that followed? Again we do not know. But, from our knowledge of what the Spaniards had on board their five ships, we can surmise that it was cocido, a stew made from salted pork and garbanzo beans, laced with garlic seasoning, and accompanied by hard sea biscuits and red wine. If it happened that the Seloy contributed to the meal from their own food stores, fresh or smoked, then the menu could have included as well: turkey,venison, and gopher tortoise; seafood such as mullet, drum, and sea catfish; maize (corn),beans and squash.

What is important historically about that liturgy and meal was stated by me in a 1965 book entitled The Cross in the Sand: “It was the first community act of religion and thanksgiving in the first permanent [European] settlement in the land.” The keyword in that sentence was “permanent.” Numerous thanksgivings for a safe voyage and landing had been made before in Florida, by such explorers as Juan Ponce de León, in 1513 and 1521, Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528, Hernando de Soto in 1529, Father Luis Cáncer de Barbastro in 1549, and Tristán de Luna in 1559. Indeed French Calvinists (Huguenots) who came to the St. Johns River with Jean Ribault in 1562 and René de Laudonnière in 1564 similarly offered prayers of thanksgiving for their safe arrivals. But all of those ventures, Catholic and Calvinist, failed to put down permanent roots.

St. Augustine’s ceremonies were important historically in that they took place in what would develop into a permanently occupied European city, North America’s first. They were important culturally as well in that the religious observance was accompanied by a communal meal, to which Spaniards and natives alike were invited. The thanksgiving at St. Augustine, celebrated 56 years before the Puritan-Pilgrim thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation (Massachusetts), did not, however, become the origin of a national annual tradition, as Plymouth would. The reason is that, as the maxim holds, it is the victors who write the histories.


The historical fact remains that St. Augustine’s thanksgiving not only came earlier; it was the first to take place in a permanent settlement. The Ancient City deserves national notice for that distinction.

Perhaps most of New England is now willing to concede as much, though that was not the case in November 1985, when an Associated Press reporter built a short Thanksgiving Day story around my aforesaid sentence of 20 years before in The Cross in the Sand. When his story appeared in Boston and other papers, New England went into shock. WBZ-TV in Boston interviewed me live by satellite for its 6:00 p.m. regional news

The newsman told me that all of Massachusetts was “freaked out,” and that, as he spoke, “the Selectmen of Plymouth are holding an emergency meeting to contend with this new information that there were Spaniards in Florida before there were Englishmen in Massachusetts.”

I replied, “Fine. And you can tell them for me that, by the time the Pilgrims came to Plymouth, St. Augustine was up for urban renewal.”
I confess (again!) that I have long held the historical bias of which this professor speaks. I somehow discount Florida when I think of the United States because the first American colony was not among the original Thirteen. Still, history has spoken. Clearly, the settlers of St. Augustine deserve the credit for having celebrated the first Thanksgiving in America!

'Twould be grand if this caught on in the elementary schools. C'mon, now, admit it! You'd love to see the little ones dressed in conquistador armor rather than Puritan garb!