“It Can’t Happen Here”?

Some are suggesting that we’re overreacting in saying Friday’s ruling is the door to open persecution.  If it weren’t for the fact that Antonin Scalia himself says it is, I’d share their “let’s keep cool heads,” but no, we need to make a stand for religious freedom.   I often quote a Joseph Sobran column I read once–can’t find the original, and the only hits I’ve found on Google are from me–saying, “The only problem with pessimists is they underestimate how bad things are going to get.” I know Kreeft and Kirk have written similar things.
All my more conspiracy-minded friends, and people like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck, sometimes seem to be wrong only in that regard. It’s easy to see how the whole thing was engineered just as people have warned for years.
First, things like the blue/gold dress that a) show how fast a “meme” (in the original sense it was coined) can travel in this digital age; b) get people fired up about nothing; and c) undermine people’s confidence in their own abilities.
Then some conveniently timed acts of violence–again, I don’t think the Feds sent the attackers, but I know they’ve permitted it because Scott Roeder was on 24 hour FBI surveillance when he shot George Tiller.
Now, just in time for the two rulings that destroyed the American Republic by saying the letter of the law means nothing, and the will of the people means nothing, they do this Confederate Battle Flag thing (a symbol that I don’t personally support) and show how swiftly censorship can happen in an age when information spreads swiftly.

In two days, SCOTUS has ruled that a) words don’t mean anything, and they can insert whatever they want to into laws; b) state laws, referenda and constitutional amendments don’t mean anything; c) the Constitution itself doesn’t mean anything; and d) once again, the Anthony Kennedy Doctrine of “People can decide what they want to be or whether they’re even people” has been given another precedent, this time with the notion that the government exists not to protect the liberty to pursue happiness but to *make* people feel happy and loved.
Let’s not forget that, 20 years ago, St. John Paul warned about the Conspiracy of Death in _Evangelium Vitae_.
Cardinal George famously predicted that his successor would die in jail, and the next archbishop of Chicago would be publicly executed.

The US has remained the one bastion of safety amidst all those aforementioned persecutions: ISIS may be more public and scorched earth, but the violent persecution of Christians has always been going on, and there is only one reason it doesn’t happen here: the First Amendment. From George Takei to Barack Obama, we’ve heard radicals this weekend saying it’s their next and ultimate target. 
When Catholics said, “contraception will lead to acceptance of abortion, divorce, and homosexuality,” it was “you’re being paranoid; that’s a slippery slope fallacy,” yet we were right. When they started legalizing gay marriage, they insisted on no one being affected, yet now we’ve had little old ladies sued out of their life savings and small businesses. Yes, it’s a small price to pay for eternal life, but then so’s death.

Yet, it’s less of a martyrdom than being directly killed, but it’s more Satanic. It’s the very agenda the Chinese communists use.

Killary wants us to change our beliefs on abortion; Obama wants us to change our beliefs on marriage.
Now, reports are trickling in of faithful Catholics being reported to Facebook, or worse, the police, for petty offenses.

Meanwhile, radicals are threatening, and some Catholics are warning, that the next step will be demands that Catholic schools and adoption agencies comply, that churches lose tax exemption status, that they’ll do everything they can to financially cripple the Church–and it’s still the same dismissal of “paranoia” and “that’ll never happen,” and “what’s so bad about that,” even after every other warning has been proven ?
Even if we “win” in court, it will be costly, and the enemies of the Church only care about their futile attempts to destroy Her. They won’t, of course, but that doesn’t change that we all need to be vigilant and take a stand.
 

7 years ago, some of my RL friends predicted that Obama would engineer some violent crisis, declare martial law and declare himself dictator. The old saying about learning from history applies here, since this has happened in every Republic/democracy throughout history (you can start by reading about Julius Caesar).
It’s a pattern that, 10 years ago, George Lucas expected Dubya to follow, making _Revenge of the Sith_ an allegory for what he thought the Bush Administration was doing, and yet it’s Obama who’s really implemented the patterns Lucas describes.  While there’s still a chance a Bush or Clinton will be the one to go full Julius or Augustus Caesar on our Republic, there’s also time for Obama to do it, or else we could be truly honest and declare Anthony Kennedy imperator.

Love isn’t pleasure; it’s sacrifice. Love isn’t a feeling; it’s a choice

Sexual intimacy is not love. Sexual intimacy strengthens one to practice love. While the Sacrament is most truly expressed when the parties freely choose one another, freedom from infatuation in making that decision is almost as important as freedom from external coercion, since infatuation is internal coercion. Attraction, or even being friends, are not necessary to have a marriage. Choosing to love, honor and obey, in sickness and in health, as long as you both live, is what’s necessary.   Being attracted, being friends or even liking each other help, but once that choice is freely made, barring some horrible extenuating circumstances (and, even then, sticking it out is heroically virtuous), once that choice is made, it’s made.

We love in marriage to prepare us to engage in the sacrificial love necessary to raise children.  Babies, the anthropologists and psychologists tell us, are cute so we’ll want to take care of them.  When a teenager is jerky and disrespectful, we think, “She’s my cute little baby.”  When a 10 year old is bullying his siblings, or someone else, we think, “He’s my cute little baby.”  It keeps us, as a comedian might say, from dropping them off at the orphanage.  But there are times when parents get angry with our children, or maybe they grow up to be people we don’t have anything in common with, but that bond of the baby we once knew encourages to get through those hard times as parents.

And learning how to truly love as a parent teaches us to truly love other people sacrificially.

So, whichever permutation of the sexual revolution you’re talking about, how does self-gratification teach you to be self-sacrificing?

“Just believe in yourself”

“God just wants me to be happy,” says the contemporary Christian singer about her divorce and remarriage.

“Believe in yourself,” says the new age guru.

“The real Bruce Jenner,” say the headlines.

“Born that way,” says Lady Gaga.

Apparently, Jesus says “Affirm yourself, put down your cross, and follow your heart”?

Oh, no, wait.  That was, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.”

Scars and Self-image

As I approach the 19th anniversary of my first heart surgery, meaning that I’ve had my artificial valve now for half my life(!), the “me” I think of when I approach a mirror is still the “me” without the scars.   Now, the original “zipper” is less noticeable both from age and from the others that now surround it.  Every now and then, one strikes me.  A few weeks ago, I suddenly “saw”/noticed how big and dark the scar in my side from two years ago is-the one from the drainage tube and the chyle surgery, which healed wrong so Dr. Peterseim cut it back open in the CVICU–I can still feel the sensation of his fingers in my side–removed the infected tissue and partially stitched it back up, but it had to heal with mainly biodegradable gauze.  Every 2 days for my last month and a half in the hospital, a wound care nurse would come in and change my bandages.
They give my wife, the schoolteacher, a crash course in wound care and showed her how to do what a specialized nurse had been doing–but it saved us getting a home care nurse.
There was a lot to reflect on in that wound alone.  Then there was my  feeding tube hole, which required a slightly *different* kind of cleaning and dressing, and my trach hole–all three requiring slightly different treatments, and different healing times. . . .
Tonight, I looked in the mirror, and somehow the scar from my carotid-subclavian bypass, which prepared the way for my arch-abdominal aorta repair, struck my attention just now and inspired this post.  The bypass is kind of cool in and of itself–you can see my pulse in the tube that runs up my collar bone to my neck–but right under it is the scar, slightly curved, more like a fossilized centipede or a lightning bolt in a movie.
I can make an effort to see the beauty and the meaning in my scars–thankfully, my wife doesn’t need an effort to do it–and it’s much easier with the ones from two years ago–but still, after 19 years, I still expect to see my unscarred “self,” and I’m different.   And maybe it’s different when one chooses it, but I don’t understand how anyone can voluntarily do that–whether it’s piercing, or tattoos, plastic surgery or whatever–to make a permanent change that will be there, not just for the rest of this earthly life but possibly in the Resurrection.
While Catechism paragraph 2297 comes into play in these matters, I’m not really thinking in terms of morality here.  I’m more musing on the emotional experience, but that is  seen with a view to the resurrection of the body.  Presumably, the resurrected body will be free of worldly defects, though some of the Saints suggest those “defects” would instead be glorified.

They’ll know We Are Christians by Our  Blocks?  “Unity” and the Francis Effect

Somewhere in 2013/14, my Landlord asked me, casually, my opinion of Pope Francis. I wasn’t in a mood to elaborate, so I shrugged. My answer would be the same today.

1) I am troubled by the things lots of others are troubled by, and there are plenty of red flags but also plenty to be happy about. Pope Francis is, ultimately, a typical “good” priest of his generation, especially a Jesuit, someone I’d probably admire as a pastor or bishop, but as Pope?

2) the current papacy challenges certain notions we have of what a Pope should be like, and I think that’s a good thing.  For one,we really shouldn’t assess Popes as if they’re politicians even if they are.

3) It’s been two years. He is only the third Pope to have 24/7 scrutiny in the new media or even cable news. It’s interesting that sedevacantism only really became a “thing” with the rise of television. Suddenly, day to day papal activities that were previously ignored are international headlines. A casual Papal remark, like a movie star’s wisecrack on a press junket, gets dissected in the media.  Would “Pio Nono” have worn a clown nose to amuse suck kids or accepted a photo op with an environmentalist group?  I think probably, but we can’t know because photography as we know it didn’t exist then.  Might Leo XIII have made a throwaway comment about not judging people who are sincerely trying to follow God but struggling with sin?  Would St. Pius Zx have changed Eucharistic discipline?  Oh, wait, he did.

Regardless, 2 years is a short time.  Look at John Paul II in 1980 versus 1990 versus 20000.  People expected  Paul VI to permit contraception for like 5 years then were devastated by Humanae Vitae.  Though comments from numerous cardinals are giving the appearance otherwise, I still expect a repeat of that.

4). What if he doesn’t?  Either we go in with this muddled confusion till the next Conclave elects Cardinal Burke, or else he does something unquestionably wrong and shows all the antiPope prophecies are true, which means something really good would be coming after a short time if trial.  

Nevertheless, what I find troubling most of all about the “Francis Effect” is that it’s affecting people.   From top-down, regardless of where the proverbial buck stops, people are being told to stop talking about certain issues, that the pope has changed this or that, . . . It’s the 80s all over again.  In the midst of all that, I see people who should be 99.999999% in agreement and uniting with common cause instead unfriending and blocking each other over things the Pope has said.  Ultramontanist, the equivalent of “Papist,” is being used as a pejorative by people who once wore it as a badge of honor, who in turn are being accused of heres, not trusting the Holy Spirit, etc.

It’s very sad.  “If they’ll know we are Christians by our love,” what does that tell us?  Are love and peace and mercy flowing like a river through you and me?

“but, Daddy, at school they said, . . .”: Why I homeschool

A few years ago, we tried brick and mortar.  We had our girls in a pretty good Catholic school and our son in a pretty good public school.  At Christmas that year (kindergarten), he started talking about the (alleged) religious symbolism of the candy cane.  We asked if he’s heard it at CCD, Lord’s Brigade, or on EWTN.  He said, “No.  From [my teacher].”  Indeed, our town’s general homeschool community, which my wife follows on Facebook to keep up with events, Is largely made up of secularists who find the local public schools too religious!”

But, still, even if you set aside questions of the moral and psychological dangers, bullying, peer pressure, subversive agendas, disputes about curriculum or teaching models, ability of the school to accommodate learning or physical disabilities, and so forth, those  two years, and the continuing aftermath, have highlighted a dilemma that troubled me my whole life.

My children’s generous uncles and aunts, starting with the Wii that I expected to be a one-time capitulation, have given them a steady stream of video game systems, so each of them now has at least one DS-whatever, and they’re constantly talking about the next thing they want.  I recall when I was laying in the hospital two years ago, watching my daughter play her DS, and thinking–whether I was actually hearing this or hallucinating, I may never know–the nurses, the hospital patieht rep, and others complaining about my kids having so many video games when we always say we’re struggling financially.  We are, and we’ve purchased very few of the games they have, and of course games have horrible resale value.  The point is that they’ve been roped into a materialistic cycle I’d always wanted to avoid.

My son’s hand me down DS broke over Thanksgiving.  His uncle sent him a hand me down Of what .i thought was the latest middle for first communion.  

Today, I took the kids to the park to fly a kite we bought at a dollar store.  We were having a good, old fashioned, inexpensive, fun time, but while I assembled the kite, I heard him talking about how he wants to save up for the latest model, which apparently is literally the “new 3DSXL.”  Within what I thought was reasonable for his fragile psyche, I lost it a bit and got a bit preachy.  We had a moment, hugged it out, but when I tried to talk about living in the moment, he said how at school they always talked about preparing for the future and planning for emergencies.  In his mind, having a second DS in case one breaks qualified as an emergency.   I’d been enjoying those 6 months when he carried around a box of Legos.

But how do you teach your child to be humble, to have poverty of spirit, to put others first, etc., when schools, and ironically Catholic schools especially, teach pride, ambition, and competitiveness?

The Jesuits have always been controversial for their accommodation of local cultures, and for their frequent interference in politics,  but I do not understand how an Order which rarely produces bishops or cardinals and has taken 500 years to produce a Pope because it teaches against pursuing advancement has contributed so much to the competitive approach to education we find in modernity.

When a dress code is not just about teaching modesty and obedience but wearing a “blue blazer with brass buttons,” is that teaching children to follow the examples of John the Baptist, Martin of Tours, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, or Pier Giorgio?  Even the Monarchs who’ve been canonized generally dressed below their stations.  

When a school advertises its “high academic standards,” makes students compete for titles like “valedictorian” even to the point of destroying friendships, gives awards for “perfect attendance,” etc., his is that teaching children to live the Beatitudes?   Help that homeless person you pass on the way to school, get a few minutes late, lose perfect attendance and lost the edge on being “#1.”  Besides, helping the homeless is dangerous, might be illegal, and you need to direct them to proper charities.  Is that a message that teaches kids to be Saints..

I know I could do a lot better as a parent, but I also know that what Ai consider better is the opposite of the World.

That’s why I homeschool.

Perspective

When I was a teenager, I rejected youth group because there wasn’t anything particularly Catholic about it.  At the time, I knew nothing of The Reform of the Reform movement.  Though my temperament was generally traditional, I was more concerned with traditional theology and piety than liturgy.  Going to youth group functions, though, and encountering nothing particularly Catholic–just socializing and some smattering of New Age spirituality, I didn’t see the point.  And where my rejection was in favor of spirituality over socialization, I saw my peers rejecting the shallowness in favor of more appealing social activities elsewhere.  

Later, as I read articles from Crisis, Adoremus, etc., about Haugen-Haas liturgical songs, I took the position, expressed by some of the writers, that such music, when not heretical, can have a place in a parish hall,  one’s private music collection, or even in devotional exercises at church, but not in the Mass or the Office.  

For the past year, our eldest has been attending a middle school youth group with some of her homeschool/AHG friends.  On first Fridays, they have a holy hour.  They open with O Salutaris and close with Tantum Ergo and Benediction.  This makes it heads and tails above the “Holy Hour” we attended once in another city, where they used an illicit, politically correct “translation” of Vespers and sang Amazing Grace for Benediction.  

The priest who leads it is a very orthodox young priest from Poland.  He hears confessions.  They have music and Bible readings.  While they use contemporary music for the devotions, the actual liturgical parts are chanted.  A. goes to confession every time, and has read one of the Bible readings on at least one occasion, even though it’s not our parish.  

Given that the options for devotions during a public Exposition are fairly broad, and seeing the effect it’s had on A., I’d have to say that, beyond my initial discomfort, given my experiences, it’s minimally a “pick your battles” situation, but more like “way to go,” that they are getting it right.  

Ca. 1991-1997, I’d have been happy they were doing adoration at all.  Ca. 1997-2005, I’d have been angry.  Ca. 2005-2011, I’d have been disappointed and maybe mocked it but ultimately shrugged my shoulders (as I did with VBS).  Post-dissection, and definitely post-Dark Night, I’m far more accepting of things and trusting of the Holy Spirit.