Monthly Archives: February 2008

The Groningen Protocol

Sounds like some suspense movie, but there’s no movie here. In the Netherlands, source of much of the evil that’s spread through the world since at least the Pilgrims, it has become standard medical practice to kill severely disabled infants who meet the following criteria:

there are three classes of newborns that can be euthanized under the Groningen Protocol, including: 1) Those who have no chance of survival, 2) those who “may survive after a period of intensive treatment but expectations for their future are very grim;” and 3) those “who do not depend on technology for physiologic stability and whose suffering is severe, sustained, and cannot be alleviated.”

As Adrian Monk would say, “Here’s the thing. . . “
There is no such thing as suffering that cannot be alleviated. All suffering can be alleviated with the right treatments and the right amount of love. And isn’t that an open-ended “criterion”? My suffering has been severe and sustained for as long as I can remember. That’s of course why we have “abortion on demand”: first it was “life of the mother”; then it was “life and health of the mother”; then it was “health of the mother includes mental health.’

As for criteria one and two, “no chance of survivial” and “expectations for their future are very grim,” gee. Glad these guys think they can see the future.

Archbishop Ranjith: keep homilies short and end Communion by hand

A priest once told me that, when he was ordained, his father gave him the following advice: “The first five minutes are God’s; the second five minutes are yours; anything after that is the Devil’s.”
Well, apparently Archbishop Albert Ranjith, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, agrees, as he is calling for new norms that priests and deacons must keep homilies under 10 minutes!

Plus, as he and Pope Benedict have stated several times, they are “reviewing” Communion by the hand.

But according to Ranjith the practice was “illegally and hastily introduced
by certain elements of the Church immediately after the Council”.

Part III: I’m tired, and I need a sign

My last two posts built up a train of thought, written over several hours, drafted and redrafted (mainly due to accidental deletion), culminating three weeks of deep spiritual crisis for me.

It actually opened up a big key to the puzzle for me, this reflection.

But I’m still at a loss. Something has gotta give. I am tired of Mass being nothing but a source of stress in my life; i can’t remember when it wasn’t. Every now and then it isn’t, but usually it is.

People think I’m bitter. If you’d been through what I have, you would be, too.

In the world, people have always made fun of me because of the way I look, my posture, etc. in the Church, people have always made fun of me for the same reasons.

In the world, I struggle through trying to get by, with few offers of help or compassion.
In the Church, I struggle through, trying to get by, with few offers of help or compassion.

Yes, i have some great stories, but those are the *rare* exceptions.

Think about it, there are 52 Sundays in a year. I don’t know how many of those Sundays I’m even able to make it to Mass.

They used to say to my parents, “but he goes to school.” Now, they might say, “But you work.”
Yeah, and you know what I do when I work? Half the time, I have to beg my students’ forgiveness when I get worn out, or breathless, or just totally forget what I’m talking about. I’ve had pin strokes in front of my students. I’ve screamed in pain in front of my students.

If I were to start screaming in pain at Mass, they’d probably have me arrested.

Out of all those Sundays I never made it to Mass, I have a handful of stories of people bringing me Communion.

On the whole, strangers “in the world” have been more genuinely compassionate to me than my alleged “brothers and sisters in Christ.”

At the same time, the liturgy itself has been my sole consolation: the sacraments, knowing that I’m in a tradition that goes back to Christ, that I’m worshipping with the saints.

My traditionalism springs from my disability. It keeps me grounded in a worldview that gives my life meaning.

My moral crusade, of course, springs from my disability. Contraception, abortion, and euthanasia all send the message from the world, “You’re not worthwhile. You don’t deserve to exist.”

My conservatism grows from anger at the liberals who hypocritically claim to care. Conservatives say, “You’re on your own,” and life has repeatedly told me, “You’re on your own.”

From first grade, when I’d stumble and fall in the mob of students running out of school, I have known I was on my own.

I’m tired of Mass being nothing but stress.

I want to know if God actually wants me.

I have no doubt that God exists. I have no doubt that God loves me. I have no doubt of every truth the Catholic Church believes and teaches.

I just don’t know why Mass has to be so hard. If it were “hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our Death,” then that would be one thing. Mass, at its best, is sacrificial agony for me.

There is no better mass then when I’m in complete pain, yet I can make it through, completely offering myself.

But the hardness I’m talking about is that which just creates unnecessary stress and worry.

Why does God spurn me? Why doesn’t He want me?

Part 1: I Hate Lent

Let is always a difficult time for me.

I always come in with some grandiose plans for spiritual growth. It usually ends up being a time of great spiritual assault.

This year, I’m doing well with my devotions. I’ve commited to say certain devotions every day, and I’ve been doing them. If I’ve missed something one day, i’ve caught up the next.

I’ve been more active in maintaining this blog, and it’s shown some fruit.

But I’ve also been under deep spiritual assault, and I’m about at my last straw, as i will discuss in a separate post.

I think that, almost every Lent, I become overwhelmed with the problem of Scandal.

Now, I’ve long since become adjusted to the fact that many priests have very serious sin problems. What bugs me is the attitude of people sticking their heads in the sand about this. When a priest is engaging in scandalous behavior, he doesn’t need us to look the other way and feel sorry for him. He needs us to pray for him and fast for him. He needs us to stand up to him and say, “What you’re doing is wrong.”

Fr. Corapi is the only one I’ve heard give a reasonable position on this subject. Many priests, he warns us, have serious problems with sin. It goes with the territory. Being a priest is very psychologically stressful and spiritually strenuous. Priests are prime targets of the enemy. To deny that priests have addictions and serious sins is to deny them the grace they’d get if we were praying for them.

OK.

Then there are the many “good priests” who are strongly orthodox but seemingly lacking in what we might call “evangelical fervor,” the kind of fire for the Gospel that Fundamentalists condemn Catholics for lacking.

I’ve known very few priests who seem to have the right combination of doctrinal orthodoxy, liturgical and disicplinary rectitude, spiritual asceticism, and evangelical fervor.

One of those was Fr. James Haley, and he now sits in canonical limbo.

Most of the others I might list were sent off at some point for extensive “psychiatric treatment.”

*That* is what scandalizes me. The bad priests get promoted, or retire comfortably, or receive no disciplinary action whatsoever. But the really devout, prophetic priests end up being sent away for “nervous breakdowns” because they make the laity uncomfortable.

So, that has been weighing on me.

And then there’s the problem I will post more extensively on in a separate post.

Part II: Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me

There are two passages in the Gospel which are foundational both to my family and to the Lewis Crusade. They are two passages which seem to be almost universally ignored and defied, by Catholics of all ideologies. Yet I know that there are also many Catholics who really take these words to heart.
But still, there is a fundamental attitude that puts human rules above Jesus’ words in this regard, as in many others.

I don’t remember the exact sequence but, during the first 2 months of our marriage, when it came time to decide if we were going to use NFP to delay pregnancy, we went to Mass on the important day and heard a Gospel that answered our question directly.
One is Mark 9:36: “Whosoever shall receive one such child as this in my name, receiveth me. And whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. ” This ought to be the proof text against contraception, among other things.

“And they brought unto him also infants, that he might touch them. Which when the disciples saw, they rebuked them.” (Luke 18:15).

See that? It specifically says “infants.” Jesus is preaching. This is Jesus preaching, not some average Fr. Joe parish priests, but Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate.
People are bringing their babies to him. The disciples say, “Take these babies away! They’re distracting!”

What does Jesus do?

“But Jesus, calling them together, said: Suffer children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Amen, I say to you: Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a child, shall not enter into it.” (Luke 18:16-17).

He says, “Let them come!” He says, in fact, that Heaven is made up of little children, and we need to be like *them*. We need to be like children. Jesus does not say that we need to teach children to be like adults.

Immediately after this is the dialogue with the rich young man, to whom Jesus says, “all whatever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” (Lk 18:22).

If you condemn abortion, or contraception, or liturgical abuse, or homosexuality, or some other obvious sin, people say, “Judge not, let ye be judged.”
But don’t ever dare break some human rule in favor of more perfectly following the Gospel. Then people are all about judging.

“You shouldn’t have so many kids if you can’t properly take care of them.”
“Why is your house so messy?”
“Your kids distract me from my prayers at Mass.”
“Why are you always late for Mass? It’s distracting.”

Most people just want to be the kind of “sensible,” “moderate” Catholics like the anonymous person who posted here a few days ago, the people who do just what they think they need to do to get to Heaven (assuming they do that much). They come to church on Sundays, maybe go to Confession from time to time. They may even go to Confession monthly or weekly, and attend daily Mass, say the rosary every day, and involve themselves in various parish activities.

What does Jesus say to such people?

think not. So you also, when you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: “We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do. ” (Lk 17:10).

“This man’s spiritual power has been precisely this, that he has distinguished between custom and creed. He has broken the conventions, but he has kept the commandments.” (G. K. Chesterton, Manalive).
People are unwilling to judge others when it comes to God’s law, but they are more than willing to judge when it comes to human conventions.
We drive people away from the Church, not by our moral rectitude but by our rigid manners.
Where is the Christian charity for those in need? People will pay money for far-away causes. They might even volunteer to go to some far away land and do works of mercy. They might even volunteer to do works of mercy for non-Catholics and people of other races.
Illegal immigrants? “Hey, many of them are Catholic. Let’s go help them!”

Have a fellow parishioner who’s in need?

….. [crickets chirping]
Mary and I believe very strongly that children should be at Mass. One area we disagree on is cry rooms. She thinks they’re necessary; I think we should send anyone who doesn’t watn to hear children at Mass to the cry rooms, so they can have their nice “quiet” mass in a soundproof room, on loudspeakers.
One of the beauties of the Latin Mass is that it takes the burden off the laity. In the Novus Ordo, people are all worried about “Catholic calisthenics.” Jump up, sit down. Switch from this missalette to that Scatter hymnal, and then to that Horror and Malaise supplement.
“Spirit of Vatican II” people talk about “active participation.” They talk about “community meal.” But when it comes to lifting a finger to help a parishioner in need? Fat chance.
I had to drive from Sumter, SC, to Erie, PA, to get the sacraments before my heart surgery, because I had a pastor at that time who didn’t believe in sick visits.
How many Sundays have I gone without communion because I was having a “bad chest day”?
Since we’ve had children, I’ve spent many Sunday masses sitting in the car with a sleeping kid, usually because my chest hurts.
One of my fondest memories of the Church is when we were at St. Patrick’s in Fredericksburg, one of the first times this happened. I think Gianna was a baby. Mary had Allie in church, and Gigi was asleep in the back of the car. It was evening Mass in the winter, and I, as Mary likes to put it, had passed out.
My chest hurt really badly, and I was barely conscious. So I stayed in the car with Gianna and slept. Mary went to Mass. At mass, she asked several people about getting me Communion.
Fr. Paul Scalia wasn’t celebrating, but was there for Communion. When the ECM relayed Mary’s message, he said, “I know the couple. I’ll do it.” (I heard about this later).
So, imagine my surprise when, laying in the car in some state of unconsciousness, I awaken to a rap on the window.
There’s strict Fr. Scalia, smiling and bringing me the Lord!

That was such a great moment.

But that, and a few others, are the rare exceptions in my life.
Mostly, it’s been Sunday after Sunday, sitting at home, or in the car, longing to be at Mass, but unable because of my health. Or Sundays that I’ve gone to Mass and had to leave in pain, but no one batted an eye.
On Holy Thursday on my senior year in college, I went to Mass at the St. Thomas More Chapel at USC. A new priest had just arrived (he just got a transfer last month, after 11 years). I was having bad chest pain, so I left. I practically crawled out of church in pain. No one so much as asked, “Are you all right?”

I stumbled across campus in pain. People glared at me in disapproval. No one helped.

I arrived at the offices of the South Carolina Honors College and collapsed on a chair, just as then-deans Dr. Peter Sederberg and Dr. James Stiver were leaving for the day. They jumped to my aid and called university paramedics. It was the spring after my heart surgery, and, when I decided to live on campus, Mom had told Dr. Stiver to look out for me.
Mom was coming to pick me up for Easter after Mass, and found Dr. Sederberg pacing in front of the Thomas More chapel.
Dr. Stiver stayed with me as long as he could, till they took me away in the ambulance.
Now, I’m a parent.
I remain open to life. We have plenty of reasons why we *could* (many would say “should”) use NFP to delay pregnancy, and, each time, we strongly consider it. But, when it comes down to it, we usually decide our reasons are not strong enough, so we get another kid.
We were talking to some friends last week. The one lady’s husband is in the Army, and they live on base. She says that, on base, the fact that she has three kids is considered monumental.
“Do you use birth control?” People ask her.
“NFP.”
“Oh, I could never use that,” they say. “It doesn’t work.”
She says, “Oh, NFP works fine. We just don’t use it.”
I’ve attended traditional Latin Masses that are very child-friendly (and TLMs that are not). I’ve attended “regular” Novus Ordo masses that are child-friendly (in the right way).
I’ve known priests who really encourage parents to bring their kids to Mass.
Most priests and laity I’ve known who come from other countries, particularly strongly Catholic ones like Poland and the Phillippines, or from third world cultures, have no problem with children at Mass.
African priests encourage kids to come and sit around the altar. They certainly don’t mind it when kids “climb in the pews.” And these men are used to living on the brink of martyrdom.
One of the great blessings of my last few months in Virginia was that I finally found a daily Mass I could attend on my lunch break, at Angelus Academy. The celebrant was a very holy priest from Africa, Rev. Joseph Okech, A.J. I explained that I came to Mass late and left early because it was my lunch break from work, and I was giving up lunch to come to mass (I’d microwave food back at work and gobble it down when I got back). He offered confessions on Wednesdays, and I’d go to confession weekly to him. He was a priest that I had no problem confessing to, face-to-face, in a kitchen. He exuded the holy spirit. And one of the things he would talk about in his homilies was the horrible persecutions his fellow priests endured back in the Sudan.
He loved it when my kids came to kids at Mass.
I never felt embarrased to bring my kids to St. Joseph’s or St. Anthony’s Maronite in Richmond. Especially at St. Anthony’s, where we would sit in the “cry room” (actually more of a “family room,” with several rows of seats), and the older kids would give our children guidance on how to behave.
When we were in Sumter from January to May of last year, I’d take the kids to daily mass at St. Anne’s. Since I had good friends there, I’d divide the kids among my friends. After a while, one of the teachers from the school, a lady I never met, would help out, too.
We’ve been pretty happy since coming to Columbia, but lately–I blame the “Lent thing” I posted about below–it’s been increasingly frustrating.
Earlier this month, i was confronted by nasty comments from people about bringing my kids to church. Plus, our pastor has been writing things in the bulletin criticizing people for coming late.
I try to keep the commandments, but, to do so, it requires breaking some of the conventions.
And I wouldn’t have to break those conventions if people were better about helping each other.
We are supsoed to be a community, a family in Christ. Most kids behave at Mass if they have clear one on one attention.
There wouldn’t be a problem if Catholics acted more like a community. Like what I experienced so briefly in Sumter.
The problem with people who say, “children at mass distract me from concentrating on the mass” is not just that they’re blatantly rejecting a clear teaching of Jesus. It’s that they’re blatantly rejecting the entire Gospel. They’re saying that Mass is about *them*, about enjoying a show, not about internalizing the Gospel and putting it into practice: not in some abstract distant future; not 10 minutes after Mass, but right then and there.
See a young couple at mass struggling to keep their big Catholci family in line? Why not go over and offer your assistance? Then you’d really be participating in Mass in the way that counts.
See a fellow parishioner who’s obviously in pain, either struggling to make it through Mass or stumbling out? Why not get up and help?

Assyrians want to reunite with Chaldean Catholic Church, and, thereby, Rome

A relatively small schismatic sect, but every one of the eastern Churches that comes back is a sign of hope for the West.
Plus, news on the efforts on Rome’s part to bring back RadTrads and Anglicans.

Saying the A-Word in Lent

Me as a teenager:
“Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It has been 2 months since my last confession. Recently, I said the a-word.”
“Which ‘a-word’? ‘Ass’?”
“No, A-L-L-E-L-U-I-A. “

Of course, seriously, I went on to clarify that i felt guilty not just because of saying “the a-word” in Lent, but because it meant I wasn’t really paying attention to my prayers. So, just rattling them off, I said that word where I normally would have skipped it during Lent.

Apparently, Christians only want white people to reproduce because they’re racist!

That’s the tone of this column from some eugenicist website. Yet, the author talks about this worldwide “conspiracy” of “right wing Christians” teaming up with “a smattering” of Muslims and Jews and people in third world nations.

Actually, with the exception of her thesis, she’s surprisingly balanced for a eugenicist. Until she got into the racial stuff, I thought the article was actually written by a pro-family person.

Of course, it’s a nice twist of logic to say that we’re the ones who are racist, since racism is the fundamental agenda of the “Population Control” crowd.

Catholic Analogy in _Transformers_

There’s an interesting discussion on Mark Shea’s blog concerning a Mythlore article on C. S. Lewis’s Letters to Malcolm, a retroactive interpretation of The Chronicles of Narnia, and how Lewis’s anti-Catholicism damaged his relationship with J. R. R. Tolkein. I have posted extensively in that discussion concerning the article itself, but the discussion inspired me to a kind of tangential topic.

Lewis’s objective in his fantasy stories was to deal with the question of the possibility of life on other worlds. Apologetically, Christianity has “failed” to properly address every major scientific revolution since the re-discovery of Aristotle in the 13th Century (OK, Thomas Aquinas did that one right). Even though St. Augustine, aware of the conflicts between Sacred Scripture and classical learning, long ago set up the parameters for dealing with the relationship, each time there’s been a scientific movement that seems to contradict Genesis, the skeptics cry “We’ve disproven the Bible” and the fundamentalists denounce science.
So, Lewis speculates that, if God *did* create sentient life on other worlds or other universes, and if God created us out of love, to have a relationship with Him, then it stands to reason that He created those other beings to have a different kind of relationship with Him than we do, and that their salvation may be a completely different process.

Thus, in Narnia, he presents Aslan as the Second Person of the Trinity manifesting Himself differently to a different world. The Mythlore article concerns the flaws of Aslan, from a Catholic perspective. One of the flaws the article highlights is how Narnia does not, for example, have a Eucharist.

This really struck me, at some level, even as a kid. But, having picked up Lewis’s approach, even before reading his nonfiction, I began to apply Lewis’s theory to other fantasies I enjoyed as a kid.

In 1986, Hasbro turned its hugely popular toy franchise Transformers into a cartoon movie. The creators of the film, by their own admission in the 20th Anniversary DVD, just figured, like the critics, that it was a “toy movie.” The movie is largely a rip-off of Star Wars and a few other science fiction franchises. It adds to the Autobot/Decepticon conflict a new enemy, so dangerous that, at the end of the movie, the two factions must fight together against it: the Chaos-Bringer, Unicron, a giant Transformer that turns into a planet and devours other planets and their populations (being a cross between the Death Star and Marvel’s Galactus).

While Hasbro and the producers proved short-sighted in several respects, and, while the movie was initially a flop due to negative reaction over the deaths of beloved characters, it introduced several elements that, over the next 20 years, including several cartoon and comic book series would grow into an interesting mythology.

While the movie had a comic book adaptation, it took place clearly in the continuity of the Sunbow cartoon series. The US Marvel comic did not address the movie elements until 1989, when writer Simon Furman expanded the seeds planted in the movie.

Sadly, in the desire to make the live action movie accessible to casual audiences, the writers reinvented the mythology of the series.

But the mythology created by the movie writers and Furman, while it has certain polytheistic and transcendentalist elements that are easily dismissed, has, at its core, elements that are clearly anagogical to Catholicism.

The Transformers’ God is Primus, the First One. He created Cybertron and stored His Presence in the center of the planet (in the 2005 series Transformers Cybertron, Cybertron itself transforms into Primus, referenced in the attached webcomic).

Primus also stored His Essence in the Creation Matrix (aka Autobot Matrix of Leadership), which was originally introduced in the early Marvel issues as being the source of Transformer life. If Narnia doesn’t have a cognate to the Eucharist, Transformers does; it’s the Matrix. In the cartoon series, the Autobot leaders are so wise because they can tap into the Matrix and confer with the “Sparks” (souls) of previous Matrix-bearers and other Autobot “saints” that have gone on to Transformer afterlife, the “Allspark” (In order to avoid copyright issues with a certain other film series, the writers of the 2007 movie changed the name of the Matrix to the Allspark).

The Matrix is passed down through a line of Autobot leaders known as the Primes (Popes?). Marvel #65 lists them as Prima, Prime Nova, Sentinal Prime, Optimus Prime. Certain continuities also have Vector Prime (introduced in the 2000s as the “original” Prime in all continuities) and Rodimus Prime (introduced in the 1986 movie). A few others have held the Matrix in certain continuities: Alpha Trion, Ultra Magnus, and the Decepticons Galvatron and Thunderwing. But the unworthy cannot access the power of the Matrix (in Marvel, the Matrix does become corrupted by an alien lifeform that is mutated by its power, and that lifeform merges with the Decepticon Thunderwing, but Optimus Prime easily purifies the Matrix when he’s reunited with it).

The Matrix also has the power to defeat Unicron. (In the 1987 two-parter “Return of Optimus Prime,” the Matrix also exorcizes a galatic “hate plague”).

“Unicron? Who’s Unicron?” asked Hot Rod.

Well, Unicron is, in short, the Devil. Unicron was a powerful demon who rebelled against Primus and sought to overthrow creation by consuming it. He possessed a young asteroid and manipulated it to transform into a body resembling his spiritual form. He then set out to consume planets and lifeforms across the universe, in the hope of becoming Primus himself. Lewis would approve: Cybertronians have a different devil, and, therefore, a different path to salvation.

In reaction, Primus designed the Transformers to mimic Unicron’s transformation abilities. Over time, Unicron was able to occasionally develop connections with individuals on Cybertron, who came to worship him.

Different series have dealt with the situation differently, but it always comes down the apocalyptic battle where the Matrix destroys Unicron.

Why does anyone even listen to James Carroll?

It is patently obvious that James Carroll’s whole agenda is anti-Christian. Even many Jews have condemned his efforts to label the Church “anti-semitic,” because it’s so blatantly obvious he uses the charge merely to justify his support for artificial contraception.

This piece is full of blatant factual errors. The Vatican did not “authorize” the Traditional Latin Mass “last week”; it did so at the Council of Trent. _Ecclesia Dei_ and _Summorum Pontificum_ merely emphasized the right of the faithful to the liturgy. And the only thing that happened last week was a change to one prayer in the 1962 Missal. The prayer in question occurs in the Good Friday service and, hence, has nothing to do with the “Mass,” since there’s no Mass on Good Friday.

The prayer in question calls for the conversion of the Jews to Christ. Since Christ is the only savior, this is a perfectly reasonable thing to pray for. I certainly hope that, if the Jews sincerely believe that Jesus was *not* the Messiah, that they are just as actively praying that Christians will “see the light” and reject the false Messiah.

Certainly, James Carroll admits that he does *not* believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior. This, of course, completely discredits any claim he makes to being Catholic or Christian.

At issue is the concept of the Covenant, which is a different matter altogether. First, the Jewish covenant calls for sacrifices to forgive sins. The covenant may be in force, but I fail to see how Jews today are keeping their covenant. I don’t see any Temple or any burnt offerings of fatlings going on.

Secondly, there is no promise of resurrection in the Jewish covenant, with the obvious example being the teaching of the Sadduccees.

To say that the Jewish covenant is still in force for Jews does nothing but reiterate the clear teaching of the New Testament–Jews keep their covenant as Christians; Gentiles don’t have to, Brother Bob Fishman being an example.

Slick Willie not so Slick When Challenged on Abortion

Let’s hear it for pro-lifers in Steubenville!

“Criminalize women and their doctors.” First, abortionists aren’t doctors; they’re butchers. Secondly, “criminalizing women” is a classic straw man. How many women were thrown in jail for abortions when abortion *was* illegal?

Yay! My first hate-filled post by a "moderate"!

Of course, “moderate”=”liberal.”

The reply was irrelevant to the thread it was posted to, so I’m copying it here:

“Anonymous said…
The whole concept of Lewis Crusade is ridiculous and demeaning to all moderate, sensible and compassionate catholics – surely you header should mention what you believe in not what you want to fight against…jesus was a pacifist afterall!”

1. I *allow* anonymous posting, but I don’t like it. Anonymous posting is a sign of cowardice. You indicate that you’re not really interested in discussion but merely lobbing attacks.

2. What is a “moderate, sensible and compassionate” Catholic?? Normally, that means, at least, a Catholic who supports artificial contraception. And they demean themselves by doing so. Don’t shoot the messenger.

What is “moderate, sensible and compassionate” about the Left’s agenda to eradicate the poor and the disabled using contraception, abortion and euthanasia?

What was “moderate, sensible and compassionate” about what starving Terri Schiavo to death?
What was “moderate, sensible and compassionate” about forcing pregnant women with rubella to get abortions so their babies could be used for research?
What is “moderate, sensible and compassionate” about telling people with genetic disorders to use IVF and sacrifice their “defective” children to embryonic stem cell research??

3. Why is it your business what my header says? In point of fact, it *does* say what I believe in: “the Lord Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church, the right to life, the institution of the family, the rights of the disabled, and all the little children.”

4. You say the “whole concept of the Lewis Crusade.” Do you even know what the “whole concept” is, why we call it the “Lewis” Crusade? Typical of a liberal “non-judgemental,” so-called “moderate” Catholic, you’re the one being judgemental and hateful without knowing the whole story–read the early posts.

5. Jesus was not a “pacifist”, at least not in the way you mean. Liberals always bring up
“pacifism” as the straw man against pro-lifers. The Church very clearly teaches that individuals and societies have the right to self-defense, so complete pacifism is *not* in accordance with Catholic teaching.

Secondly, it is quite obvious that, by “fighting,” I mean intellectually and spiritually. To that end, are these the words and deeds of a “pacifist”?

“34 Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send
peace, but the sword. 35 For I came to set a man at variance against his father,
and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother
in law. ” (Mt 10:34-35).

“And when he had made, as it were, a scourge of little cords, he drove them
all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen, and the money of the
changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew.” (Jn 2:15).

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven
suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away. ” (Mt 11:12).

“Then said he unto them: But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and
likewise a scrip; and he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword.
37 For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be fulfilled in me: And
with the wicked was he reckoned. For the things concerning me have an end. 38
But they said: Lord, behold here are two swords. And he said to them, It is
enough. ” (Luke 22:36-38).

Of course, the passage normally cited to claim Jesus as a “pacifist” is the following:

“52 Then Jesus saith to him: Put up again thy sword into its place: for all that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53 Thinkest thou that I cannot ask my Father, and he will give me presently more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that so it must be done?” (Mt 26:52-54).

Yes, Jesus says “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword,” but He said it just as He was about to “die by the sword.” He said it to Peter, who would also “die by the sword.” It is not so much “don’t use the sword,” as “don’t use the sword unless you’re willing to pay the price.” And certainly, the rendering in John:

“Jesus therefore said to Peter: Put up thy sword into the scabbard. The chalice
which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (Jn 18:11).

Confirms the idea that, in saying, “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword,” Jesus is referring to Himself. This is He of whom Simeon prophesied:

“Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in
Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; 35 And thy own soul a sword
shall pierce” (Luke 2:34-35).

One of the best way to tell a liberal priest is when you come to these Gospels in the Lectionary, and the priest starts his homily, “This sure doesn’t sound like Jesus, does it?”

Lastly, here are Jesus’ words to so-called “moderates”:

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert
cold, or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I
will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth. ” (Rev 3:15-16).

Saints are not “moderate”. They are certainly not “sensible.” They do what the world considers irrational and foolish. Heroic virtue is extremist. Thomas Aquinas chased the prostitute out of his room with a hot poker. John of the Cross was censured by the Carmelites for being “too extreme” in his asceticism. Same with Padre Pio and the Capuchins. St. Jerome condemned one of his disciples for leaving the Desert to go be a parish priest, saying that was the pinnacle of inexcusible worldliness. Teresa of Calcutta served the poorest of the poor. Francis of Assisi stripped naked in the Cathedral. Joan of Arc led the armies of France into battle. Soon-to-be Blessed Louis Martin would not allow any secular literature into his household.

These are not “sensible,” “moderate” actions.
All of the martyrs rejected the “sensible,” “moderate” choice of compromise with the world and chose to die rather than betray their values.

What to do at the PaterNoster?

Thanks to the Charismatic “Renewal,” one of the many debates over liturgy is the exact posture of the people during the “Our Father.” Some argue for the orans posture, raising hands. Others advocate the Protestant practice of holding hands. Others hold hands, then raise them at “for the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever” (or, “for thine is the kingdom . . . ” which of course is wrong for multiple reasons).

There are no official liturgical norms, one way or the other. Some argue that, in general, “If it’s not in the norms, don’t do it,” while others say, “It’s not in the norms, so we can make up our own rules.”

And this, in most official documents and “Q&A’s,” is the fundamental argument *against* such postures: local parishes imposing innovations on parishioners. If everyone is holding hands as a “sign of unity,” then the person who does not choose to join hands, for whever reason, becomes labelled “disruptive” for something that has nothing to do with liturgical norms.

On a similar note, the argument is that the hand holding signifies unity, but Communion is the real “sign” of our unity, and not just a sign, but the reality of it. The non-Catholics, divorces and Democrats in the congregation cannot show their unity by going to Communion, but they can stand there and join hands as if they *are* in union with the Church. And with the Sign of Peace following shortly thereafter, the gesture is redundant.

Meanwhile, I’ve always heard that the orans posture was wrong, because it’s adopting the posture of the priest, but apparently, the orans posture has been approved by the Vatican for some countries, including Italy. The usual argument is that it “usurps” the posture of the priest, but, since this is a community prayer and not a priestly prayer, that’s not an issue.

Here’s an interesting discussion of the subject with some old Vatican citations, saying that it’s a litugical abuse.

But here’s an article from that most Catholic country, the Philippines, that says it’s OK.

I thought I was gonna blog about a clear liturgical abuse, and now I’m confused.

Praying the Psalms with St. Arsenios

St. Arsenios of Cappadocia used Psalms as blessings for various occasions, and provided us with a list of the occasions he associated with each Psalm. He also passed down a general “topic index” of Psalms for prayer.

For example, he recommended Psalm 1 when planting. His list is linked above in the EWTN Library. I’ve posted a few interesting examples below.

2 So that God illumines those who go to meetings and councils.
3 So that badness goes away from people, so that they do not torment unjustly their fellows.
4 So that God heals the sensitive people who fell ill from depression because of the behaviour of hard-hearted people.
5 So that God heals the wounded eyes that were bitten by a bad person.
6 So that God frees the person who has been under a spell.
7 For those who got damaged from fear, from the terrors and the intimidations of bad people.
8 For those who are hurt by demons or by perverse people.
9 & 10 So that the demons stop tormenting you in sleep or with fancies during the day.
11 For hard-hearted couples that argue and divorce (when the hard-hearted man or woman torments their sensitive wife or husband).
12 For mentally ill people who have badness and harm others.
14 For a terrible demon, continually three times a day for three days.
15 So that robbers or thieves change their mind and return having done no harm, and having repented.
17 For a grave and unjust accusation, three times a day for three days.
19 So that women give birth successfully.
20 For the couples who for medical reasons cannot have children, so that God heals them and that they do not divorce
28 So that God heals those who suffer from illnesses of nervous or mental origin.
41 So that women give birth with success when the child comes prematurely into the world.
45 For those who suffer from heart or kidneys.
46 For the young people that the enemy because of envy prevents from making a family (i.e. from getting married).
50 So that the people who are far from God repent and return to God and are saved
68 So that the women whose pregnancies fail manage to endure and become healthy.
95 So that no spells cause couples to start finding reasons for arguments and fights.
97 So that spells go away from people.
102 So that God blesses the people who hold offices of power so that they help the people with kindness and understanding.
105 So that people repent and confess their sins.

Collegiate Colonialist Comments on Catholic Church’s Condemnation of Contraception.

I already posted comments.

Here’s another cool article by Dr. Baggot

This one is about a baby he encountered early in his career with 5 severe birth defects, and the myth that it would be “compassionate” to abort such a child.

A Broken Clock is Right Twice a Day

Back in 2001, Cardinals Roger Mahony and William Keeler issued a statement that the execution of Timothy McVeigh, perpetrator of what had been, to date, the worst terrorism act on US soil, would perpetuate the cycle of violence and lead to greater terrorism.

On the night of 9/10/2001, I was reading a copy of the Arlington Catholic Herald that had been sitting on my floor for a few months, and it featured this story.

Then I was re-reading the sections of C. S. Lewis’s _The Four Loves_ concerning patriotism and love of neighbor. He notes that, while we have the right to self-defense, defending your home against an invader is a far cry from chasing the thief down the street, as he flees your home, and shooting him in the back. Lewis compares the same thing to the right of nations to defend themselves against invaders.

The next morning, those two thoughts fresh in my head, 9/11 happened.

At the time, I figured it *was* an act of domestic terrorism.

In the subsequent months, we heard a lot about “innocent” victims, how this disaster was so especially horrible because the victims were “innocent.”

We seem to have two reactions to disasters and their victims: “Oh! They were innocent!” or “Oh! They suffered God’s wrath!” In Luke 13:4, Jesus tells us that disasters are not time for judgement of others’ souls–either way–but for consideration of our *own* sinfulness, lest we die unprovided deaths.

But I kept thinking, in the months after 9/11, about this idea of “innocence.” Let’s say that it was the 1980s, and the planes had been flown into the Kremlin. Would we have talked of “the innocent victims”? Or would we have cheered Afghanistan for achieving such a blow against our hated enemies, who deserved it?

I am not 100% against war or capital punishment. I believe, with the Church, that these are sometimes necessary to protect society, just as it is sometimes necessary for a man to protect his family by shooting a robber or for a woman to stab a man to protect herself from being raped.

But when an otherwise evil act is justifiable, that does not make it “good.” It just means that one bears no culpability for it.

If a person holds a gun to my head and tells me to commit some mortal sin, I am not morally culpable for the sin I commit. However, it would be more virtuous, indeed it would be heroic virtue, if I refused, and chose to die a martyr rather than commit a single mortal sin.

So, I wonder about the death penalty, and this idea of “innocence.”

After all, in the minds of Al-Qaeda, the victims of 9/11 were not innocents. They were guilty of participation in a global economy that they believed was threatening their civilization. They were participating in the United States military-industrial complex that was entwined in the Arab world, the new colonialism that al-Qaeda resists.

So, to them, these people were “not” innocent victims; they were enemies to be reviled and destroyed.

At the time, I said, “Innocent”? Would it be any less heinous if they were *not* “innocent”?

And that speaks to war and the death penalty, as well. After all, the Church’s conditions for approving these things under specific circumstances do not have to do with “punishing” the guilty but protecting society.

Many radical pro-abortionists argue in language of self-defense (hence “life of the mother”) that the baby is an uninvited intruder, and one has the right to defend oneself against an intruder in one’s home, so one should have the right to defend oneself against an intruder in one’s body.

One of the major purposes of the Lewis Crusade is the call to be more saintly, to practice heroic virtue above and beyond what is “justifiable.” Abstinence from unethical vaccines and medical treatments may not be morally obligatory, but even the National Catholic Bioethics Center acknowledges that it is heroic virtue.

And when we practice heroic virtue, we gain graces that make the world a better place.

So, in comes the torture issue. People are arguing for torture using the same terms pro-abortionists use.

Even if waterboarding is what the Church would call “coercion,” versus “torture,” why should we stoop to the lowest common denominator? Why not hold ourselves to a higher standard? Why feed the enemy’s hatred and paranoia by showing ourselves to be the monsters they think we are?

Analysis of studies on maternal death in Marfan Syndrome

Here’s an interesting study summarizing the statistics of risks of Marfan women giving birth. Conventional wisdom is that women with Marfan syndrome should not give birth, even though conventional wisdom is *also* that women with Marfan syndrome outlive men by 20 years on average. Case studies indicate 1/10 Marfan women die giving birth. But, of only three formal studies, involving 239 pregnancies and 181 births among a total of 83 women with Marfan syndrome, only 2 women died. This means that about 1% of births result in maternal death, and, 1/40 women with Marfan syndrome who give birth will die from it. Plus, the two women in question died of post-partum complications, not the birth itself, and one was because of poor follow-up.

There is no indication that pregnancy causes a woman’s aorta to get worse.

Significantly, a third woman died of complications from abortion.

The authors of this report are pro-life Catholic physicians. One of them is Paddy Jim Baggot, who is both an OB/Gyn and a geneticist, and an expert in Napro Technology. Here is an interview where he talks about the Catholic faith and his profession.

Marfan syndrome in "Gil Thorp"?

I’ve never really read or understood “Gil Thorp,” but it’s apparently a comic strip about high school basketball. The Comics Curmudgeon likes to talk about it, though, and, in his February 10, 2008, blog post, he focused on making fun of a character in the strip named Andrew, pictured to the right,

seeing as his impossibly long and thin body in panel one seems to have been
completely de-boned[, . . . ] and it appears in the same panel as someone who’s arm looks to be on backwards.

One fellow comments

Well, Andrew Gregory does have at least one bone in his body. Unfortunately, it’s an ankle bone where his wrist oughta be. Yikes! Genetic freak, or illicit plastic surgery gone horribly wrong?

Another comment:

GT — Andrew’s probably got attitude problems because he’s evolving into a seal. His hands are turning into li’l flippers.

And

The picture of Andrew Gregory lends credence that he is actually the young Plastic Man. He’s melting, I tell you, melting! No doubt by the hot rage of Gil Thorp!

Then, on this blog devoted to Gil Thorp, I found out that, apparently, in the story, this Andrew fellow’s basketball performance has been lacking due to fatigue.

So, I went to the official Gil Thorp page and looked at some of the more recent comic strips. The week of January 28 includes more details on the character’s poor performance and physique. There’s also a reference to how this star player isn’t “bulky”.

Here’s a close-up of his face. Note his very long face and high forehead, sunken, weak-looking eyes, and long chin.
I’m probably just being overly optimistic. It would be nice, since it’s “Have a Heart for Marfan” month, to see this turn out to be a Marfan awareness story in a nationally syndicated comic strip about high school basketball, which is, of course, one of the areas where Marfan awareness is most needed.
I hope that this is not just a case of bad drawing but that the artist is, in fact, giving visual clues and storyline hints that this character could be close to dropping dead of an aortic dissection if he doesn’t quit basketball.
OK, I am not the only person to make this connection. Back on January 15, someone posted to The Comics Curmudgeon,

I’ve got to hand it to Gil Thorpe. Making a disabled kid real not some little hero a la Foob’s Sha-non. Andrew is obviously suffering from Marfan’s syndrome, Rickets and Bell’s Palsy, but he’s portrayed as a normal kid; competitive, impetuous, vaguely competent as a photo journalist… in short not someone who’s defined by their physical handicap. It’s refreshing.

Actually, Marfan syndrome would account for all of it. He doesn’t necessarily have to have Rickets or Bell’s Palsy.
And, apparently, this strip *has* dealt with Marfan syndrome previously. Back in 1999, there was a character named Neil Cray who was a Marfan. From some of the comments I’ve seen online, though, and scanning the archives, the story hasn’t been taken too sympathetically by readers, and wasn’t handled very well by the writers.
It began in July 1999, where this Thorp fellow was excited to hear about a 6’10” freshman who came out of nowhere. So, Thorp shows up at the Crays’ home, to find out about the kid. His motehr says, “Neil suffers from the growth disease that killed his father.”

Well, it’s not technically a “growth disease.” Then Gil Thorp says he wants to find out what kind of gym activities Neil can “enjoy,” to let him have a “normal gym experience.” Yep, because that’s all there is to life, is sports, and if you can’t play sports, you’re a worthless human being. We have hear the Steel Magnolias problem: “can’t” versus “shouldn’t.”

In the course of the school year, he undergoes an aortic valve replacement, plays a basketball game to “fulfill his dream,” compromises his recovery from surgery, and dies. Yet the moral of the story is that it was better for him to just enjoy it, because he was gonna die anyway.
To a certain extent, I might agree with that. If he’d played the basketball game *before* his surgery, I might agree with that. But he played it *after*, while he was in recovery, which is a stupid move for anyone, Marfan or not.
So, if this current Andrew character is also a Marf, let’s hope they handle the story better this time.

Look Who’s Talking??

There’s been a lot of talk this year about movies like Juno, Knocked Up, Waitress, and, of course, Bella.

But this weekend, I watched a relatively old movie which I’ve never heard discussed as a pro-life film, Look Who’s Talking (1989) with Kirstie Allie and John Travolta.

It’s crude in parts (as are, reviewers have noted, some of the above films), but it features, like the above, a woman in an unplanned, unexpected and rather unfortunate pregnancy, resulting from an adulterous liaison, stating, emphatically, “I am not having an abortion.”

The premise of the film, of course, is Bruce Willis’s narration of the baby’s thoughts throughout the film. It has started a kind of comedic genre. The narration starts with conception (argument loses strength when the narration starts *before* conception, illustrating the inaccurate, Aristotelian view of conception).

However, the actual conception moment is pretty amazing, and occurs just as Dr. John Bruchalski describes it from his in vitro fertilization days: a visible electric charge.

Then, throughout the next section of the film, it shows the unborn baby in utero, making observations about his own development and depicted very accurately: not as a “little baby,” not as a “blob of tissue,” nor as the false “stages of evolution” myth that was created in the 19th century, but as a fetus actually looks in the womb.