Monthly Archives: June 2010

Pro-Abortion Baptist and his wife Canonized by Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, WV

Bishop Michael Bransfield wrote the following in his public statement on the death of the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV):

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston offers its most sincere condolences to the Byrd family, and we pray during this difficult time that family and loved ones will remember that Senator Byrd is now at peace with the Risen Lord and, with his late wife Erma Ora Byrd, is experiencing Perfect Joy.

Really? Not even a little time in Purgatory? Does he know something we don’t about a deathbed reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation?


Sex abuse crisis in Episcopal School: “Oh, if only Episcopal Laity could get married!”

This is old news, but back in October 2000, a jury awarded one of the largest lawsuit awards in the history of Charleston: $15 million to victims of sexual abuse at Porter-Gaud Episcopal School in Charleston.

Due to state caps on how much a non-profit can be sued for (where’s that for the Catholic Church?), as well as limit’s set by the school’s insurance, the actual awards were reduced–and no one seemed to be saying “Let’s bring down the Episcopal Church” over the case.

A teacher named Eddie Fischer sexually abused more than 40 students between the years of 1971 and 1982.

Flowers told the jurors they shouldn’t consider Eddie Fischer’s culpability in their deliberations. Noting Fischer pleaded guilty to an array of sex abuse charges a year and a half ago, Flowers added, “Eddie Fischer accepted responsibility. The reason we’re here today is that he’s the only one who has accepted responsibility.”

He described Eddie Fischer as “an animal” that Porter-Gaud could have “put in a cage.”

Longtime Porter-Gaud principal James Bishop Alexander committed suicide shortly before he was to be deposed in the case.

Flowers then recalled the testimony of another student, William Baker, who said he had sexual contact with Alexander when he was a child.

Flowers asked: Why didn’t Alexander stop Fischer from abusing children in 1979?

He paused. “Because (Alexander) was doing the same thing.”

Fischer was forced to resign in 1982 after a family threatened to go to the police. Later, he received a letter of apology from headmaster Berkeley Grimball. Grimball and Alexander gave Fischer a positive recommendation for a job at James Island Christian School, where he molested even more students.

Another James Island Teacher was accused of molesting teenaged girls, and an Episcopal minister from Johns Island Episcopal Church in Charleston was also charged with child molestation.

Years ago, on a forum (I think Catholic Answers), a convert said that anyone who thinks the Catholic Church is worse because of celibacy is deluding themselves. He said that, when he was growing up Episcopalian, the boys knew exactly which priests to steer clear of.

St. Teresa of Avila on the prayer of quiet, continued

“Thus when the will finds itself in this quiet, . . . it shouldn’t pay any more attention to the intellect than it would to a madman” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 31, para. 8).

Interestingly, St. Teresa de Jesus seems to hold, with C. S. Lewis later, that the will is the most important faculty of the human soul. It is what keeps the soul in motion.

“Note carefully, friends, this piece of advice which I want to give you now. You will often find that these other two faculties are of no help to you. It may come about that the soul is enjoying the highest degree of quiet, and that the understanding has soared so far aloft that what is happening to it seems not to be going on in its own house at all; it really seems to be a guest in somebody else’s house, looking for other lodgings, since its own lodging no longer satisfies it and it cannot remain there for long together. Perhaps this is only my own experience and other people do not find it so. But, speaking for myself, I sometimes long to die because I cannot cure this wandering of the mind. At other times the mind seems to be settled in its own abode and to be remaining there with the will as its companion. When all three faculties work together it is wonderful. The harmony is like that between husband and wife: if they are happy and love each other, both desire the same thing; but if the husband is unhappy in his marriage he soon begins to make the wife restless. Just so, when the will finds itself in this state of quiet, it must take no more notice of the understanding than it would of a madman, for, if it tries to draw the understanding along with it, it is bound to grow preoccupied and restless, with the result that this state of prayer will be all effort and no gain and the soul will lose what God has been giving it without any effort of its own.” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 31, para. 9).

Great Lines from _A Man for All Seasons_: On Conscience versus Peer Pressure

<blockquote>The Duke of Norfolk: Oh confound all this. I’m not a scholar, I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not but dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can’t you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!
Sir Thomas More: And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?</blockquote>

Does your Party Teach You, or Do You Teach Your Party?

Today, I was in a FB discussion with a blogger who was asking, apropros to Libertarians, Rand Paul, etc., what people thought the motives of the North were in the Civil War.

I made the point that the motives of the North in waging war against the South were not the same thing as the motives of the Republican party at the time, the motives of the people, etc.

Anyway, my friend said something to the effect of “That’s not what the Republican Party teaches,” and I replied, “What Magisterial authority does the Republican Party have?”

It struck me that this particular discussion hit at a common crux of debates I have with other conservative Catholics, and a problem many Catholics have when dealing with their faith in public life.

C. S. Lewis talks of Christianity “And”–where the cause becomes just as important as the Christianity, and then eventually Christianity becomes a tool to the cause. Indeed, certain movements that were notoriously condemned by the Church were condemned for this reason. Action Francaise was not condemned by the Church for its monarchist position–that was endorsed by the Church. The Church condemned Action Francaise in the early 20th Century because its leadership at the time (which was, oddly enough, atheist) claimed that the Church was a tool of monarchy, rather than the opposite.

Well, that kind of thing happens whenever a Catholic becomes too embroiled in any political movement. That Catholic may be perfectly orthodox, or 99% right. But there comes a point at which some people stop saying “The Church teaches X . .. “and saying they support the Party because the Church teaches X, and switch to saying, “The Party teaches X. . . .” And it isn’t long before it changes from
“I support the Party because the Church teaches X, and that position is in the party platform”
“I support the Church because the Party teaches it, and that position is in the Catechism.

As Catholics, we are called to deal with one another charitably in matters where the Church gives us freedom to decide for ourselves. As John Paul II explains in _Veritatis Splendor_, there is a difference between negative moral laws–which are always absolute prohibitions–and positive moral laws, which give some freedom to the individual to interpret *how much* he or she will implement those laws.

When the Church gives us freedom to discern, we can discuss with one another *what* the Church teaches, and *whether* we think a particular application is appropriate.

I am not bothered by other Catholics who take positions different than mine, so long as they are honestly taking the Church’s teachings into account. It is when I see those teachings intentionally obfuscated, or else subjugated to the State or (worse) the Party, I have a problem.

So when “just war” becomes “moral war,” or even “Just war doesn’t apply to this situation,” I take issue. When I am being judged on the basis of whether I conform to “Republican Party teaching,” I take issue.

Christ and His Church always come first.

Great Lines from _A Man for All Seasons_: On the Kennedy Doctrine

The fictionalized St. Thomas More has the following statement for Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, the Kennedys, Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Mitt Romney (a Mormon proponent of the Kennedy Doctrine):

I think that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.

Liberal Catholic Footprints

I can’t remember where I read this recently, so I’m just writing my own variant.
A liberal Catholic was walking along the beach with the Lord,

And, as she walked, she saw images of her life pass by.

At the end of her journey, she turned and looked back at the footprints.

“Lord,” she observed, “as I look back on these footprints representing my life, I see Your footprints walking beside mine, but I notice that at times there are only set of footprints. . . .

Why is that, during the times I was dancing for You at Mass, singing folk hymns, voting for Democrats or sending money to Notre Dame, only one set of footprints appears?”

“My Dear Child,” the Lord said,
“It was at those times I tried to throw you into the ocean, but you kept coming back out!”

Chesterton on Literature and Madness

There is a notion adrift everywhere that imagination, especially mystical imagination, is dangerous to man’s mental balance. Poets are commonly spoken of as psychologically unreliable; and generally there is a vague association between wreathing laurels in your hair and sticking straws in it. Facts and history utterly contradict this view. Most of the very great poets have been not only sane, but extremely business-like; and if Shakespeare ever really held horses, it was because he was much the safest man to hold them. Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination. Artistic paternity is as wholesome as physical paternity. Moreover, it is worthy of remark that when a poet really was morbid it was commonly because he had some weak spot of rationality on his brain. Poe, for instance, really was morbid; not because he was poetical, but because he was specially analytical. Even chess was too poetical for him; he disliked chess because it was full of knights and castles, like a poem. He avowedly preferred the black discs of draughts, because they were more like the mere black dots on a diagram. . . . And though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators. The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite.

–G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Ch. 2.

“Never criticize a priest”

A few days ago, someone on Facebook posted a link to this article, which concerns statements made by the auxiliary bishop of LA about “certain kinds of blogs”. The remarks are clearly aimed at Catholic blogs of the pro-life/”orthodox”/conservative sort, and seem to give a pass to the venom spewed at places like Commonweal, America, National Catholic Reporter, etc.

Anyway, they lady who posted it commented that she actually agreed with this bishop and said she believes very strongly in never criticizing a priest (I was surprised by this as, that same evening, she had posted a link to one of those “Real Catholic TV” podcasts).

Anyway, I have a great deal of trouble, as anyone who reads this blog, can probably guess, with the principle of “never criticize a priest.” Where does that end?

After all, “Never criticize a priest” (or “the Order”) was one of the founding principles of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi. About 5 or 6 years ago, I interviewed for a job at a Regnum Christi school. I asked the principal if they did Mass in Latin. He said, “No, because to support the Latin Mass is to criticize Vatican II, which goes against the principles of our Order.”

St. Francis Xavier, in the passage quoted in Matins for his feast day, has some pretty harsh words for the priests teaching theology in European universities when they should be out doing missionary work. St. Jerome famously had harsh words for a lot of people.

What about every theologian in the history of the Church? When Aquinas, Bonaventure, Scotus and others were having their epic debates in the 13th Century, did that not constitute “criticizing a priest”?

It seems to me that “never criticize a priest” is a relic of what Dietrich von Hildebrand calls the “ossification” of the pre-conciliar church, and one of the very things Vatican II meant by its emphasis on the laity. Indeed, while we have US bishops criticizing blogs for criticizing the Church, we’ve also had statements from the Holy Father and other Vatican officials–cited previously on this blog–which *praise* the lay Catholic media for keeping the clergy in check.

After all, isn’t “never criticize the clergy” the mentality that got us into the mess we’re in, at every level?

“Never criticize the clergy” is what most abuse victims were told by their families and others when they tried to report the abuse.

“Never criticize the clergy” is what the victims were told by the hierarchy.

“Never criticize the clergy” is what Fr. James Haley was told when he tried to report that his pastor was committing adultery with a parishioner, or that another pastor was engaging in financial impropriety.

Every liberal priest will talk about Vatican II and the laity, and how important is is for laity to have a greater role in the Church. Yet challenge that same priest on his heterodox teachings, and he’ll immediately fall back on, “Never criticize the clergy.”

Oh, by the way, what was the first action Pope Benedict XVI did to reform the LC/RC movement, other than the suspension of the late unlamented Fr. Maciel? He told them to get rid of their “Never criticize the clergy” rule.

St. Teresa of Avila on “the prayer of quiet”

After many chapters, St. Teresa de Jesus finally begins to describe what she calls the “prayer of quiet”. This is not the same as mental prayer. Mental prayer, as discussed, means actually thinking about God while you pray.

What Teresa calls “the prayer of quiet” is what some would call “consolation,” the experience that God is directly responding to our prayer with a feeling of spiritual rapture. It is a state of prayer that God sends on us. We have to be praying to receive it, but we have no guarantee that it will come in any circumstances. Sometimes, we may get it instantly after some very weak prayers; other times, we may make a retreat worth of prayers and devotions and sacraments and yet not experience “the prayer of quiet.”

This is a supernatural state, and, however hard we try, we cannot reach it for ourselves; for it is a state in which the soul enters into peace, or rather in which the Lord gives it peace through His presence, as He did to that just man Simeon.[107] In this state all the faculties are stilled. The soul, in a way which has nothing to do with the outward senses, realizes that it is now very close to its God, and that, if it were but a little closer, it would become one with Him through union. This is not because it sees Him either with its bodily or with its spiritual eyes. The just man Simeon saw no more than the glorious Infant — a poor little Child, Who, to judge from the swaddling-clothes in which He was wrapped and from the small number of the people whom He had as a retinue to take Him up to the Temple, might well have been the son of these poor people rather than the Son of his Heavenly Father. But the Child Himself revealed to him Who He was. Just so, though less clearly, does the soul know Who He is. It cannot understand how it knows Him, yet it sees that it is in the Kingdom (or at least is near to the King Who will give it the Kingdom), and it feels such reverence that it dares to ask nothing. It is, as it were, in a swoon, both inwardly and outwardly, so that the outward man (let me call it the “body”, and then you will understand me better) does not wish to move, but rests, like one who has almost reached the end of his journey, so that it may the better start again upon its way, with redoubled strength for its task.

The body experiences the greatest delight and the soul is conscious of a deep satisfaction. So glad is it merely to find itself near the fountain that, even before it has begun to drink, it has had its fill. There seems nothing left for it to desire. The faculties are stilled and have no wish to move, for any movement they may make appears to hinder the soul from loving God. They are not completely lost, however, since, two of them being free, they can realize in Whose Presence they are. It is the will that is in captivity now; and, if while in this state it is capable of experiencing any pain, the pain comes when it realizes that it will have to resume its liberty. The mind tries to occupy itself with only one thing, and the memory has no desire to busy itself with more: they both see that this is the one thing needful and that anything else will unsettle them. Persons in this state prefer the body to remain motionless, for otherwise their peace would be destroyed: for this reason they dare not stir. Speaking is a distress to them: they will spend a whole hour on a single repetition of the Paternoster. They are so close to God that they know they can make themselves understood by signs. They are in the palace, near to their King, and they see that He is already beginning to give them His Kingdom on earth. Sometimes tears come to their eyes, but they weep very gently and quite without distress: their whole desire is the hallowing of this name. They seem not to be in the world, and have no wish to see or hear anything but their God; nothing distresses them, nor does it seem that anything can possibly do so. In short, for as long as this state lasts, they are so overwhelmed and absorbed by the joy and delight which they experience that they can think of nothing else to wish for, and will gladly say with Saint Peter: “Lord, let us make here three mansions.”[108]” (Way of Perfection Ch. 31, paras. 2 & 3; emphasis added).

It strikes me that, when I experience the “prayer of quiet,” at first, it is no longer possible to “actively” pray. I may mutter prayers with my mouth or “recite them” in my head, but they can only be truly “rote” prayers. I can’t actively meditate. I can’t think of causes to pray for. I can only repeat little prayers and enjoy basking in God’s embrace.

But, after a short time, it is much *easier* to pray. If, for example, I experience the prayer of quiet after Communion, it can often be almost like an ecstasy, but I know what’s going on around me. I could have been struggling with paying attention all through Mass, and now, suddenly, I’m hit with the prayer of quiet, and prayer becomes extremely easy for me.

While I could easily stay in church for another 15 or 20 minutes praying, I usually have to leave to tend to my family. But, if I have experienced “the prayer of quiet,” I can resume my daily living while continuing in a prayerful state.

Once again, we’ve commited the worst sin

Trying to go to Mass together as a family.

With my handicapped van again in the shop, I’m not in my wheelchair, so Mass is back to being difficult. We’ve been taking turns the past few weeks.

I sat in the car with Joe and Clara with the air on, listening to prayers and hoping they’d go to sleep. When I thought it was too late to risk missing Communion, I got them out of the car and went in. In fact, the priest was just beginning the Consecration.

We sat down with Mary and the girls. Both Joe and Clara refused to sit in my lap. Clara was OK, but Joe started jabbering. Now, the real problem is, he wasn’t being “bad,” per se, in that he was focusing. He just wanted to know what was going on. He was pointing to all the pictures, and saying, “Oh, Mommy! Jesus is being hurt!” That sort of thing.

Mary kept trying to quiet him down. Some old woman in front of us with her hair dyed maroon turned around and loudly “Shh”‘ed.

After another moment or two, she angrily got up and walked away.

As always, it makes no sense that we are a Church that claims to be pro-life, claims to encourage large families, claims to oppose contraception and abortion, yet does *NOTHING* to help families. Instead, the contraceptors and NFP Nazis alike look down their noses, in spite of everything every papal document says and families and the role of the Church as community.

Meanwhile, tons of heretical protestant communities get lots of members because they have “children’s services” and so forth.

I’m the last one to suggest we change the Mass to be more ‘entertaining’ for kids–indeed, my experience shows that my kids behave better the more traditional the liturgy is (and also that the parishioners are more accepting of kids the more traditional the liturgy is). Yes, some people have kids who are naturally well-disciplined–and among my fellow homeschoolers the same people we envy for their well-behaved kids will say they wish their kids were as outgoing as our kids are. And

Then we came home, and, in honor of Fathers Day and the Month of the Sacred Heart, we said the Byzantine Moleben to Jesus over the dinner table. Clara had to go to her room for being disruptive, but came back and sat quietly when given a second chance. Joe was disruptive. Allie and Gigi prayed the responses and offered their own petitions when it was time.

Then I got out the Fr. Lovasik Best Loved Saints and Gigi, just having finished Kindergarten, read the first page with my help on the big words. Given the fact that she can actually see, she’s reading much better than Allie was at this age.

Allie then read the second page but wasn’t interested in reading given that she and Clara were dancing to the religious music–both classical and contemporary–I had playing.

When Allie and Gigi were little, we took them to Mass. After a while, we broke down and used the cry room, in spite of my resistance to it. There was a time when Allie wouldn’t go to sleep unless she’d at least watched Mass on EWTN, if we hadn’t actually gone. Back then, we said, “to heck with anyone who criticizes us,” because we were doing what Jesus commanded: “Let the little children come to Me.”

Now, we have two girls who are absolutely pious.

It’s gotten harder with Joe and Clara–particularly Joe. Lately, he’s been saying he doesn’t believe in God, and we think it’s because he’s already come to see Mass as something negative.

Keep him out of Mass, and we risk not building that habit, building that love for Mass we’ve developed in his older sisters; try to take him to Mass, and it’s put up with the comments and dirty looks and scrutiny, while still making him think of Mass as something bad because we have to discipline him for just being interested in his own special way.

I mean, if someone exclaims, looking at the Stations of the Cross, “Oh, poor Jesus!” Shouldn’t that be a time to say, “Amen,” not “Shh?”

But it should would be nice if the Catholic Church practiced what it preached.

“Your Mother says so”

A year or two ago, I watched a Christian stand-up comedy video on Netflix. One of the comedians told a story about getting his oldest son to join the Army.

When his son was a senior in high school with no indication of going anywhere when he graduated, his wife had him talk to their son.
“Son, we need to have a father-son talk. Just us, father and son.”
“Son, your mother wants to know what you want to do with the rest of your life.”

Somewhere in a course or book on parenting, I came across the idea that a parent should never say, “Your mother says,” or “Your mother wants you to” (or, conversely, “Your father says,” or “Your father wants you to”). Supposedly, this implies disagreement, that “Your mother says to do this, [but I don’t really care.]”

And, yes, sometimes it does. But one thing Mary and I always say to the children is that it doesn’t matter if we disagree–when one parent says “no,” even if we disagree, the “no” applies. On positive commands (“Do the dishes”; “Do your homework”), the rule is that my word, as the father, supersedes Mary’s, and I’ll usually just tell them to do whatever their mother said to do first, then come back to me.

Anyway, I was thinking about that rule just now because the same thing comes up in my teaching. There’s a great liberation in the Enterprise Model of modern higher education. After all, one of the great bugaboos of being a student, and being a teacher, is the implication of arbitrariness.

I am always careful to distinguish with my students between what are *my* policies and what are institutional policies, not because I disagree with the institution, but because that way they can’t say it’s just me. Whenever one of my online students says to me, “What do you want us to do with this assignment?” or “What do you mean when you say this?”, I start my response by clarifying: “The syllabus is institutional; it was not written by me, but by a team of English instructors and instructional designers. There’s nothing arbitrary going on here, so you don’t have to worry that I’m hiding something. I go entirely by what it says in the syllabus.” Then I try to explain my reading of the syllabus. That reinforces the student’s confidence that the guidelines are not just arbitrary things I’ve made up, that they would get the same thing with any other instructor at the college.

So, “Your mother says so” does not *have* to be an implication of subtle defiance–though it often can be. Usually, like my assurance to my students that I’m following institutional policy, it’s a reaffirmation of authority: “You can’t go to Mom for an appeal, because she said it to begin with.”

Getting back to that standup comic, the father-son chat result in a decision that, when he graduated, the son was joining the Army. Well, he graduated, and he got a job, but he never moved out and never joined the Army. So, a year after the first conversation, after he got sick of his wife and son fighting, the father sat down and said,
“It’s time for a man-to-man chat. You’re a man now, so it’s no longer a father and son talk, but a man-to-man talk.”
Son says, “OK.”
Dad says, “Son, you need to move out.”
“You don’t get along with my wife.”
“Your wife?”
“Your mother.”
“I like you just fine, and I don’t care if you come over every day for dinner, but you need your own place. . . . ”
The conversation resulted in the son’s enlistement in the Army.

G. K. Chesterton on Mental Health

It is true that some speak lightly and loosely of insanity as in itself attractive. But a moment’s thought will show that if disease is beautiful, it is generally some one else’s disease. A blind man may be picturesque; but it requires two eyes to see the picture. And similarly even the wildest poetry of insanity can only be enjoyed by the sane. To the insane man his insanity is quite prosaic, because it is quite true. A man who thinks himself a chicken is to himself as ordinary as a chicken. A man who thinks he is a bit of glass is to himself as dull as a bit of glass. It is the homogeneity of his mind which makes him dull, and which makes him mad. It is only because we see the irony of his idea that we think him even amusing; it is only because he does not see the irony of his idea that he is put in Hanwell at all. In short, oddities only strike ordinary people. Oddities do not strike odd people. This is why ordinary people have a much more exciting time; while odd people are always complaining of the dulness of life. This is also why the new novels die so quickly, and why the old fairy tales endure for ever. The old fairy tale makes the hero a normal human boy; it is his adventures that are startling; they startle him because he is normal. But in the modern psychological novel the hero is abnormal; the centre is not central. Hence the fiercest adventures fail to affect him adequately, and the book is monotonous. You can make a story out of a hero among dragons; but not out of a dragon among dragons. The fairy tale discusses what a sane man will do in a mad world. The sober realistic novel of to-day discusses what an essential lunatic will do in a dull world.

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Ch. 2.

St. Teresa of Avila on “security”

“The devil sets up another dangerous temptation: self-assurance in the thought tha twe will in no way return to our past faults and worldly pleasures” (Way of Perfection Ch. 39, para. 4).

This sets up a false confidence which makes us fail to avoid the occasions of sin, and precipitates an even deeper fall back into the old habits.

Haley Versus Barrett: Who’s more Pro-Life?

As we prepare for the run-off in the 2010 South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primary, I hope to do a series of pieces comparing candidates Nikki Haley and Gresham Barrett.

First, obviously, is pro-life.

On Haley’s page, under “Right to Life,” there are three items.
The first is this video:

The second is this text:

I believe every life has a value and is blessed by God – my husband was adopted and my pro-life convictions stem from the fact I feel the blessings of that value every day knowing someone chose life for him. I see it every day in my two children as I watch them grow. My hope is that we continue to encourage and work towards educating that value of life to everyone.

OK, pretty generic Republican speech.

The third item is a letter from Holly Gatling of SC Citizens for Life, certifying Nikki Haley’s 100% pro-life voting record.

At one point last year, when I first heard of her campaign through Facebook, I found the state website that shows various pieces of legislation and legislators’ votes on them. Most of the votes were procedural, and full of so many double-negatives, I couldn’t figure out what was saying what. However, Haley had added her name to the list of co-sponsors for the South Carolina human life amendment.

Meanwhile, contender Gresham Barrett emphasizes self-congratulation on the meaningless partial birth abortion plan and the specific legislation for a 24 hour waiting period in South Carolina.

Granted, neither candidate expresses a particularly activist agenda on abortion, but there are key differences.

a) Haley, advertises her 100% rating which includes the Human Life Amendment; Barrett’s rhetoric shows him to be a dyed-in-the-wool incrementalist.
b) Haley emphasizes her personal commitment to the pro-life cause (due to her husband being adopted), versus Barrett’s focus being more clearly political,

I have always favored pro-life women over pro-life men, because most people do think of this as a “women’s issue.” I have always maintained that the only way to truly stop abortion is to have pro-life women in office, or men with strongly pro-life wives. Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush are all pro-choice. Former SC Governor David Beasley’s father-in-law was an abortionist.

Secondly, male or female, every truly committed pro-lifer has a personal reason for being so. For Sarah Palin, it’s her son with Down’s syndrome and her out-of-wedlock grandchild. For Nikki Haley, it’s her husband.

The Vices of VIRTUS

It occurred to me recently that my VIRTUS certification is up for renewal this year, and I began considering the fact that I’ll have to go through that dreadful process.

Then a Washington Post reporter contacted me to interview me about my views on priest scandals.

Now, a Facebook friend who also lives in South Carolina asked me today for my views on VIRTUS, as her parish is basically implying that the Diocese requires everyone to take the class. Her daughter considered teaching CCD but declined after seeing the content of VIRTUS for children and deciding she did not want to be a part of the evil of teaching that sexually explicit material to young children.

Now, back when the Diocese of Arlington wanted to implement Talking about Touching, which was designed by Planned Parenthood, Deal Hudson successfully led a protest to get the VIRTUS program adopted instead, but the origins of VIRTUS–and the leadership of the whole “safe environment” office at the USCCB–is still just about as bad as Planned Parenthood. It should be noted that *all* these programs violate church teaching by their explicit teaching of sexual matters to underage children (regardless of whether parents are given the option to opt out–and many diocese imply that parents who choose to exercise their right and duty under Canon Law to educate their own children about sexuality are trying to cover up their own abuse).

Several years ago, my hero, Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, OR, teamed up with the Catholic Medical Association to create their own “safe environment” program that corresponded completely with Catholic social teaching and proper developmental psychology.

When Mary and I were going through the engagement process, we were given the option to do our preparation in another diocese. Thus, when we decided that the program at the Doicese of Savannah a) was too liberal and b) would not accommodate my disabilities (they would have required me to sleep in non-air conditioned cabins at a Boy Scout Camp in a room full of strange men), we were given permission to do our marriage prep in the Diocese of Arlington. Since there are at least 3 major USCCB-approved “safe environment” programs, it would be nice if individuals and parishes were given the option to use the program of their choice, instead of whatever is mandated by the particular diocese.

Anyway, I know I’ve addressed some of these concerns previously on this blog, but I’m not sure if I’ve written to VIRTUS itself about them, so I did so tonight, and what follows is the e-mail I sent.

Dear VIRTUS program,

(I cannot discern the gender or appropriate title of your director, so I am addressing this generically).

As my own VIRTUS certification is up for renewal this year, I’ve been contemplating the program recently, and a friend today contacted me for advice on her own concerns about the program.

I would presume I addressed these concerns to you three years ago, but in case I didn’t, I would like to point out several flaws in the program as I experienced it 3 years ago at St. Joseph’s Church here in Columbia, SC.

1. Early in the video, there is a depiction of a young girl receiving the Precious Blood in a glass goblet. Regardless of the issues surrounding lay reception of the Precious Blood, it is a very blatant liturgical abuse to use anything but certain defined metals at Mass, because glass containers will retain particulate matter of the Eucharist and risk desecration. It seems strange, in a Catholic video on abuse, to depict favorably the abuse of Our Precious Lord, which seems to be at the root of the problem.
2. Similarly, in the videos I watched, no one ever talked about the issue in terms evil, sin or the Devil, except for the convicted child molesters themselves. Everyone else spoke in nice politically correct legal, psychological and sociological terms. Yet the essence of the crisis in the past generation, as evinced by the testimony of Cardinal Law and others, is that bishops have handled this issue of evil in a purely legalistic and psychological manner–following the advice of lawyers and psychiatrists first, rather than sound spiritual direction. Abusers have been treated as mental cases or as potential legal liabilities, rather than as evil men, under some level of demonic influence, who needed severe penances and, possibly, exorcism.

3. As many have commented, the VIRTUS program does its best to misdirect attention away from priests and try to widen the blame, again focusing more on legal liability and PR than on facing the essential crisis in the Church (that said, knowing the rampant child abuse that goes on in public schools, the coverage of teachers is very helpful).

4. The class tries its best to distance homosexuality from the issue, even though the majority of abuse cases were priests with same sex attraction targeting teenaged boys. The Catholic Church has always consistently taught that same sex attraction constitutes a severe personality disorder that renders those who have it ineligible for the priesthood. Indeed, the recent Vatican clarification on this subject has even said that anyone who supports the homosexual political and social agenda, without being himself homosexually inclined, is ineligible for ordination. Yet VIRTUS, as I experienced it, said nothing of these matters and instead tried to defend the “good name” of homosexual priests.

5. I found it interesting that the VIRTUS program described the “MO” of many child molesters as being people who try to ingratiate themselves both to their victims and their victims’ parents as being “nice.” The video described the typical “lay” child molester as being someone (giving examples of teachers, friends’ parents, or coaches), who singles out a particular child for “special attention,” offering special gifts and activities, saying “don’t tell your parents.” The molester gradually “blackmails” child with increasing violations of “the rules,” increasing permissions of “naughty” behavior, always saying, “Don’t tell your parents,” and, later threats to expose the child’s participation. . . .

Meanwhile, there was only one case involving a priest discussed in detail. In that case study, the parents talked about how the priest was “so friendly” and wasn’t all legalistic, or words to that effect. The parents made it clear that they liked the priest because he was very liberal in regard to the Church’s moral and liturgical teachings, and they were shocked that this man who didn’t care about the Church’s teachings could commit immoral acts on their child.

Yet the video does *not* draw the connection between the two facts: that a priest who tells his congregation “you don’t have to do that; just don’t tell the Vatican” is no different than the playground-lurking creep who says, “Have a piece of candy; just don’t tell your parents.”

Your program would be vastly improved if you addressed these issues in the class. Otherwise, it just seems like a cover-up for the same old Americanism in the Church that caused this crisis in the first place.


John C. Hathaway, OCDS

Fantastic, Pro-Life Ad

G.K. Chesterton on Moral Relativism

Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin — a fact as practical as potatoes. Whether or no man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But certain religious leaders in London, not mere materialists, have begun in our day not to deny the highly disputable water, but to deny the indisputable dirt. Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved. Some followers of the Reverend R. J. Campbell, in their almost too fastidious spirituality, admit divine sinlessness, which they cannot see even in their dreams. But they essentially deny human sin, which they can see in the street. The strongest saints and the strongest sceptics alike took positive evil as the starting-point of their argument. If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.

–G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Ch. 2

Huh? Stupid Commentary makes Yahoo’s Front Page

Someone named Jay Newton-Small has written a piece for Time, linked on Yahoo’s home page, which offers an absolutely mind-boggling summation of yesterday’s primaries.

“Anti-Incumbent Rage Abates in Primary”.

Apparently, in a few of the primaries, the incumbent Republicans won. Some of those incumbent Republicans were the ones supported by GOP establishment, rather than the Tea Party movement (whatever it exactly is, and I’m still not sure exactly what it is except a convenient target for liberals to make obscene comments and straw man arguments against).

Joe Wilson and Jim DeMint won the nominations for re-election by landslides. While both are incumbents, both are huge in the “Tea Party” side of things, and both are known for bucking the rules of DC Decorum.

The article tries to say that Nikki Haley is an “establishment” candidate. She’s got the support of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party folks. Yes, she’s also supported by Jenny Sanford, but Nikki’s a lowly state representative who’s also non-white and a woman in a state that is still dominated by the sociopathic White, Episcopalian, Charlestonian good-old boy network embodied in Mark Sanford and Andre Bauer.

You can hardly say SC’s gubernatorial primary was anything for or against “incumbents,” since there was no incumbent. The closest thing to an incumbent was the aforementioned Lt. Gov. Bauer, who suffered a landslide loss, coming in far behind his many challengers.

And the Tea Party is a grassroots movement, though to liberals it’s the Second Coming of Karl Rove, so it really is unclear what the Tea Party is or stands for, and it comes off sounding like GOP only louder.

The same fissures that divide Republicans already can be seen even with those who identify with the Tea Parties, particularly when it comes to “patriotism” and war: are Tea Parties essentially a new wave of libertarianism, supporting a paleoconservative opposition to globalism and emphasis on protecting our own country? Or are they represented by mainstream Republican war hawking and jingoism? I honestly don’t know, since I’ve never been to a Tea Party Rally, and from what I’ve read online, the people involved themselves don’t seem to know.

Right now, all we have is a primary election, and the only trends we can look at are state by state. I mean, if Arnold Schwarzeneggar–whom one commentator said would be a Communist in many “blue states”–can be Republican governor of California, how can California’s Republican primaries be indicative of other states?

The real issue should not be who won but voter turnout. While South Carolina is generally a “Red State,” Richland County is generally considered a “Blue County”–it’s urban, and has a high African American population.

While Joe Wilson gets a lot of support nationwide for his infamous “You Lie” statement, I’ve heard a lot of anger against him in these parts. I’ve had several papers by African American students condemning him. I would expect that to show up in the general election, not the primary. However, there was a huge Republican turnout in Richland County, with a very low Democrat turnout.

This would seem to indicate where the real anger lies, by which parties are getting the overall votes in the primaries.

St. Teresa of Avila on “true humility”

“Pay great attention, daughters, to this point which I shall now make, because sometimes thinking yourselves so wicked may be humility and virtue and at other times a very great temptation. I have had experience of this, so I know it is true. Humility, however deep it be, neither disquiets nor troubles nor disturbs the soul; it is accompanied by peace, joy and tranquility. Although, on realizing how wicked we are, we can see clearly that we deserve to be in hell, and are distressed by our sinfulness, and rightly think that everyone should hate us, yet, if our humility is true, this distress is accompanied by an interior peace and joy of which we should not like to be deprived. Far from disturbing or depressing the soul, it enlarges it and makes it fit to serve God better. The other kind of distress only disturbs and upsets the mind and troubles the soul, so grievous is it. I think the devil is anxious for us to believe that we are humble, and, if he can, to lead us to distrust God.

When you find yourselves in this state, cease thinking, so far as you can, of your own wretchedness, and think of the mercy of God and of His love and His sufferings for us. If your state of mind is the result of temptation, you will be unable to do even this, for it will not allow you to quiet your thoughts or to fix them on anything but will only weary you the more: it will be a great thing if you can recognize it as a temptation. This is what happens when we perform excessive penances in order to make ourselves believe that, because of what we are doing, we are more penitent than others. If we conceal our penances from our confessor or superior, or if we are told to give them up and do not obey, that is a clear case of temptation. Always try to obey, however much it may hurt you to do so, for that is the greatest possible perfection.” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 39, para. 3).