Daily Archives: January 24, 2013

Coptic Hours: Compline

Agpeya 12th Hour (Retiring) – Compline
INTRODUCTION TO EVERY HOUR
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Kyrie eleison. Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord bless us. Amen. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Make us worthy to pray thankfully: Our Father Who art in heaven; . . . deliver us from evil, in Christ Jesus our Lord. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Amen.
THE PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, for He has covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto Him, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour. Let us also ask Him, the Lord our God, the Almighty, to guard us in all peace this holy day and all the days of our life. O Master, Lord, God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, we thank You for every condition, concerning every condition, and in every condition, for You have covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto You, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.
Therefore, we ask and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of mankind, to grant us to complete this holy day, and all the days of our life, in all peace with Your fear. All envy, all temptation, all the work of Satan, the counsel of wicked men, and the rising up of enemies, hidden and manifest, take them away from us, and from all Your people, and from this holy place that is Yours. But those things which are good and profitable do provide for us; for it is You Who have given us the authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, by the grace, compassion and love of mankind, of Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, through Whom the glory, the honor, the dominion, and the adoration are due unto You, with Him, and the Holy Spirit, the Life-Giver, Who is of one essence with You, now and at all times, and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.
PSALM 50 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your merciful love; according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash me completely from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. My transgressions, truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done. So you are just in your sentence, without reproach in your judgment. O see, in guilt I was born, a sinner when my mother conceived me. Yes, you delight in sincerity of heart; in secret you teach me wisdom. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be pure; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear rejoicing and gladness, that the bones you have crushed may exult. Turn away your face from my sins, and blot out all my guilt. Create a pure heart for me, O God; renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence; take not your holy spirit from me. Restore in me the joy of your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit. I will teach transgressors your ways, that sinners may return to you. Rescue me from bloodshed, O God, God of my salvation, and then my tongue shall ring out your justice. O LORD, open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. For in sacrifice you take no delight; burnt
offering from me would not please you. My sacrifice to God, a broken spirit: a broken and humbled heart, O God, you will not spurn. In your good pleasure, show favor to Sion; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in right sacrifice, burnt offerings wholly consumed. Then you will be offered young bulls on your altar. ALLELUIA. The blessed prayer of retiring, we offer to Christ our King and our God, beseeching Him to forgive us our sins. From the Psalms of our father David the prophet and the king, may his blessings be upon us all. Amen.
PSALM 130 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice! O let your ears be attentive to the sound of my pleadings. If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, LORD, who could stand? But with you is found forgiveness, that you may be revered. I long for you, O LORD, my soul longs for his word. My soul hopes in the LORD more than watchmen for daybreak. More than watchmen for daybreak, let Israel hope for the LORD. For with the LORD there is mercy, in him is plentiful redemption. It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities. ALLELUIA.
PSALM 131 O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor haughty my eyes. I have not gone after things too great, nor marvels beyond me. Truly, I have set my soul in tranquility and silence. As a weaned child on its mother, as a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, wait for the LORD, both now and forever. ALLELUIA.
PSALM 132 O LORD, remember David and all the hardships he endured, the oath he swore to the LORD, his vow to the Strong One of Jacob. “I will not enter my house, nor go to the bed where I rest; I will give no sleep to my eyes, to my eyelids I will give no slumber, till I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Strong One of Jacob.” At Ephrata we heard of it; we found it in the plains of Yearim. “Let us go to the place of his dwelling; let us bow down at his footstool.” Go up, LORD, to the place of your rest, you and the ark of your strength. Your priests shall be clothed with justice; your faithful shall ring out their joy. For the sake of David your servant, do not reject your anointed. The LORD swore an oath to David; he will not go back on his word: “A son, the fruit of your body, will I set upon your throne. If your sons hold fast to my covenant, and my laws that I have taught them, their sons, in turn, shall sit on your throne from age to age.” For the LORD has chosen Sion; he has desired it for his dwelling: “This is my resting place from age to age; here have I chosen to dwell. I will greatly bless her produce; I will fill her poor with bread. I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful shall ring out their joy. I will make a stock sprout up for David; I will prepare a lamp for my anointed. I will cover his enemies with shame, but on him my crown shall shine.” ALLELUIA.
PSALM 133 How good and how pleasant it is, when brothers live in unity! It is like precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, running down upon Aaron’s beard, upon the collar of his robes; Like the dew of Hermon, which runs down on the mountains of Sion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing: life forever. ALLELUIA.
PSALM 134 O come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the courts of the house of the LORD. Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the LORD. May the LORD bless you from Sion, he who made both heaven and earth. ALLELUIA.
PSALM 137 By the rivers of Babylon there we sat and wept, remembering Sion; on the poplars that grew there we hung up our harps. For it was there that they asked us, our captors, for songs, our oppressors, for joy. “Sing to us,” they said, “one of Sion’s songs.” O how could we sing the song of the LORD on foreign soil? If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! O let my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not, if I prize not Jerusalem as the first of my joys! Remember, O LORD, against the children of Edom the day of Jerusalem, when they said, “Tear it down! Tear it down to its foundations!” O daughter Babylon,
destroyer, blessed whoever repays you the payment you paid to us! Blessed whoever grasps and shatters your children on the rock! ALLELUIA.
PSALM 137 I thank you, LORD, with all my heart; you have heard the words of my mouth. In the presence of the angels I praise you. I bow down toward your holy temple. I give thanks to your name for your merciful love and your faithfulness. You have exalted your name over all. On the day I called, you answered me; you increased the strength of my soul. All earth’s kings shall thank you, O LORD, when they hear the words of your mouth. They shall sing of the ways of the LORD, “How great is the glory of the LORD!” The LORD is high, yet he looks on the lowly, and the haughty he knows from afar. You give me life though I walk amid affliction; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes.With your right hand you save me; the LORD will accomplish this for me. O LORD, your merciful love is eternal; discard not the work of your hands. ALLELUIA.
PSALM 141 I have called to you, LORD; hasten to help me! Hear my voice when I cry to you. Let my prayer be accepted as incense before you, the raising of my hands like an evening oblation. Set, O LORD, a guard on my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips! Do not turn my heart to things that are evil, to wicked deeds with those who are sinners. Never allow me to share in their feasting. If a good man strikes me it is kindness; but let the oil of the wicked not anoint my head. Let my prayer be ever against their malice. If they fall into the merciless hands of their judges, they will grasp how kind are my words. As clods of earth plowed up on the ground, so their bones were strewn at the mouth of the grave. To you my eyes are turned, O LORD, my LORD. In you I take refuge; spare my soul! From the trap they have laid for me, keep me safe; keep me from the snares of those who do evil. Let the wicked together fall into their traps, while I pursue my way unharmed. ALLELUIA.
PSALM 142 With all my voice I cry to the LORD; with all my voice I entreat the LORD. I pour out my trouble before him; I tell him all my distress while my spirit faints within me. But you, O LORD, know my path.On the way where I shall walk, they have hidden a snare to entrap me. Look on my right hand and see: there is no one who pays me heed. No escape remains open to me; no one cares for my soul. To you I cry, O LORD. I have said, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” Listen, then, to my cry, for I am brought down very low. Rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, and I shall give thanks to your name. Around me the just will assemble, because of your goodness to me. ALLELUIA.
PSALM 146 My soul, give praise to the LORD; I will praise the LORD all my life, sing praise to my God while I live. Put no trust in princes, in mortal man who cannot save. Take their breath, they return to the earth, and their plans that day come to nothing. Blessed is he who is helped by Jacob’s God, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made the heavens and the earth, the seas and all they contain, who preserves fidelity forever, who does justice to those who are oppressed. It is he who gives bread to the hungry, the LORD who sets prisoners free, the LORD who opens the eyes of the blind, the LORD who raises up those who are bowed down. It is the LORD who loves the just, the LORD who protects the stranger and upholds the orphan and the widow, but thwarts the path of the wicked. The LORD will reign forever, the God of Sion from age to age. ALLELUIA.
PSALM 147 A Alleluia! How good to sing psalms to our God; how pleasant to chant fitting praise! The LORD builds up Jerusalem and brings back Israel’s exiles; he heals the brokenhearted; he binds up all their wounds. He counts out the number of the stars; he calls each one by its name. Our LORD is great and almighty; his wisdom can never be measured. The LORD lifts up the lowly; he casts down the wicked to the ground. O sing to the LORD, giving thanks; sing psalms to our God with the harp. He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares the rain for the earth, making mountains sprout with grass, and plants to serve human needs. He provides the
cattle with their food, and young ravens that call upon him. His delight is not in horses, nor his pleasure in a warrior’s strength. The LORD delights in those who revere him, those who wait for his merciful love. ALLELUIA.
PSALM 147 B O Jerusalem, glorify the LORD! O Sion, praise your God! He has strengthened the bars of your gates; he has blessed your children within you. He established peace on your borders; he gives you your fill of finest wheat. He sends out his word to the earth, and swiftly runs his command. He showers down snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. He hurls down hailstones like crumbs; before such cold, who can stand? He sends forth his word and it melts them; at the blowing of his breath the waters flow. He reveals his word to Jacob; to Israel, his decrees and judgments. He has not dealt thus with other nations; he has not taught them his judgments. ALLELUIA.
THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. LUKE (CH. 2: 25-32)
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen Christ the Lord. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God, and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” Glory to God forever. Amen. We worship You O Christ with Your Good Father and the Holy Spirit, for You have come and saved us.
1. Behold, I am about to stand before the Just Judge terrified and trembling because of my many sins. For a life spent in pleasures deserves condemnation. But repent, O my soul, so long as you dwell on this earth, for inside the grave, dust does not praise. And among the dead, no one remembers, neither in hades, does anyone give thanks. Therefore arise from the slumber of laziness, and entreat the Savior, repenting and saying, “God, have mercy on me and save me.” Glory to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
2. If life were everlasting, and this world ever-existing, you would have an excuse, O my soul. But if your wicked deeds and ugly evils were exposed before the Just Judge, what answer would you give while you are lying on the bed of sins, negligent in disciplining the flesh!? O Christ our God, before Your awesome seat of judgement I am terrified, and before Your council of judgement I submit, and from the Light of Your divine radiance I tremble, I, the wretched and defiled, who lies on my bed, negligent in my life. But I take example of the Publican, beating my chest and saying, “O God, forgive me and have mercy on me, a sinner.” Now and forever and unto the ages of all ages, Amen.
3. O pure Virgin, overshadow your servant with your instant help, and keep the waves of evil thoughts away from me, and raise up my ailing soul for prayer and vigil, for it has gone into a deep sleep. For you are a capable, compassionate and helpful mother, the bearer of the Fountain of Life, my King and my God, Jesus Christ, my hope.
GRACIOUSLY ACCORD, O LORD
Graciously accord, O Lord, to keep us this night without sin. Blessed are You, O Lord, God of our fathers, and exceedingly blessed, and glorified be Your name forever. Amen.
Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according to our hope in You; for the eyes of everyone wait upon You, for You give them their food in due season. Hear us, O God, our Savior, the hope of all the regions of the earth. And You, O Lord, keep us safe from this generation and forever. Amen. Blessed are You, O Lord; teach me Your statutes. Blessed are You, O Lord; make me to understand Your commandments. Blessed are You, O Lord; enlighten me with Your righteousness. Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever. Despise not, O Lord, the works of Your hands. You have been my refuge from generation to generation. I said, O Lord, have mercy on me, heal my soul; for I have sinned against You. Lord, I have fled unto You, save me, and teach me to do Your will, for You are my God, and with You is the fountain of life. In Your light shall we see light. Let Your mercy come unto those who know You, and Your righteousness unto the upright in heart. To You belongs blessing. To You belongs praise. To You belongs glory, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, existing from the beginning, now, and forever and ever. Amen. It is good to confess unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Your name, O Most High; to show forth Your mercy every morning, and Your righteousness every night.
THE TRISAGION Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Who was born of the Virgin, have mercy on us. Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Who was crucified for us, have mercy on us. Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Who rose from the dead and ascended into the heavens, have mercy on us. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.
O Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, forgive us our sins. O Lord, forgive us our iniquities. O Lord, forgive us our trespasses. O Lord, visit the sick of Your people, heal them for the sake of Your holy name. Our fathers and brothers who have slept, O Lord, repose their souls. O You Who are without sin, Lord have mercy on us. O You Who are without sin, Lord help us and receive our supplications. For Yours is the glory, the dominion, and triple holiness. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord bless. Amen. Make us worthy to pray thankfully: Our Father Who art in heaven …
INTRODUCTION TO THE CREED
We exalt you, the Mother of the true Light. We glorify you, O Saint, the Theotokos, for you brought forth unto us the Savior of the whole world; He came and saved our souls. Glory to You, our Master, our King, Christ, the pride of the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, the joy of the righteous, the firmness of the churches, the forgiveness of sins. We proclaim the Holy Trinity in One Godhead. We worship Him. We glorify Him. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord bless. Amen.
THE ORTHODOX CREED
I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit
was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Then the worshipper prays: Lord, hear us and have mercy on us and forgive us our sins. Amen. (Lord have mercy) 41 times
HOLY HOLY HOLY
Holy Holy Holy. Lord of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Your glory and honor. Have mercy on us, O God the Father, the Almighty O Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, God of hosts, be with us. For we have no helper in our hardships and tribulations but You. Absolve, forgive, and remit, O God, our transgressions; those which we have committed willingly and those we have committed unwillingly, those which we have committed knowingly and those which we have committed unknowingly, the hidden and manifest, O Lord forgive us, for the sake of Your Holy name which is called upon us.
Let it be according to Your mercy, O Lord, and not according to our sins. Make us worthy to pray thankfully: Our Father Who art in heaven …
ABSOLUTION
Lord, all our sins which we committed against You in this day, whether in deeds or in words or in thoughts or through all senses, please remit and forgive us, for the sake of Your holy name, as You are Good and Lover of mankind. God, grant us a peaceful night and a sleep free from all anxiety. And send us an angel of peace to protect us from every evil, and every affliction, and every temptation of the enemy; through the Grace, compassion and love of mankind of Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, to Whom is due, with You and with the Holy Spirit, the Life-Giver Who is of one essence with You, all glory, honor and dominion, now and forever and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.
THE CONCLUSION OF EVERY HOUR
Have mercy on us, O God, and have mercy on us, who, at all times and in every hour, in heaven and on earth, is worshipped and glorified, Christ our God, the good, the long suffering, the abundant in mercy, and the great in compassion, who loves the righteous and has mercy on the sinners of whom I am chief; who does not wish the death of the sinner but rather that he returns and lives, who calls all to salvation for the promise of the blessings to come.
Lord receive from us our prayers in this hour and in every hour. Ease our life and guide us to fulfill Your commandments. Sanctify our spirits. Cleanse our bodies. Conduct our thoughts. Purify our intentions. Heal our diseases. Forgive our sins. Deliver us from every evil grief and distress of heart. Surround us by Your holy angels, that, by their camp, we may be guarded and guided, and attain the unity of faith, and the knowledge of Your imperceptible and infinite glory. For You are blessed forever. Amen.

And Consequentialism Has Come Down to This: Catholic Bloggers Defending Swearing

Many of the debates that erupt in the Catholic blogosphere revolve around whether something is an objective moral issue or a matter of prudential judgement, and one of the terms that gets batted around is “consequentialism.” On the one hand, it’s a principle of Catholic ethics that the ends never justify the means. On the other hand, both in terms of personal culpability and in terms of the objective evil of an act, the Church puts quite a premium on motive. In some cases, such as incidents of “double effect,” the motive may change the objective nature of an act. So when Jean Valjean steals his loaf of bread (we’ll set aside breaking the glass or holding a gun on the baker), he’s acting in accordance with Catholic ethics: he’s not stealing because his family is starving and will die without food. When Sr. Simplice “lies” to Javert, she’s not really “lying” according to Catholic teaching–He asks if she is alone in the room, and she says “Yes”. As Obi Wan Kenobi would put it, Valjean is “in a manner of speaking” not in the room because he’s hiding. Javert asks, “Have you seen the criminal Jean Valjean,” and she says, “no.” She’s not lying: she has only seen Mayor Madeleine whom she knows to be a saintly man.

So we had the Great Torture Debate: is waterboarding “torture”? Does the urgency of a “ticking time bomb” scenario take away from the nature of torture the way starvation takes away from the nature of theft?
The Great Lying Debate: If masking the truth the way Sr. Simplice does in _Les Miserables_ or the way Christians did to protect Jews from Nazis (or Catholics from the English in the Elizabethan era) mean it’s OK to do “undercover work”? And if it’s OK for “authorities” to do “undercover” work, what about self-proclaimed activists and investigative journalists?
Does a “Celebrity priest” with an “important ministry” have the right to disobey a legitimate order from his bishop and/or the superiors in his order for a higher cause?
The Great Christopher West Debate: Do West’s extrapolations of JPII’s “Theology of the Body” constitute advocacy of lust?
In all these debates, two concepts that keep coming up are “consequentialism” and the slippery slope. In some cases, such as West, critics have argued that his teaching will lead to dangerous trajectories, and apparently they’re right. Recently, an article in a major Catholic site proposed that the best way to deal with the temptation of pornography is to indulge it until one gets burned out (the link is to one of Kevin O’Brien’s articles on the subject, not the article itself). In all these debates, one side is saying, “But we’re doing it for a good reason,” and the other side is saying, “That’s consequentialism.”

Well, whatever the merits of whichever side in those previous debates, the voices warning of consequentialism have had their fears realized: Catholics are now arguing on the Internet in defense of swearing.
That’s right. “Do not take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain” doesn’t apply if you’re doing it for a good reason, such as declaring Michael Voris to be full of excrement.

In one of Michael Voris’s most recent podcasts–and that’s why I preceded this article with a discussion of my “take” on Voris–he apparently made an argument in favor of Catholic monarchy. This of course ruffled a lot of modernists’ feathers, and my advice there is for people to brush up on St. Thomas Aquinas’s _Treatise on Kingship_, Bl. Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors, Benedict XVI’s _Caritas in Veritate_, and maybe some Gilson and von Hildebrand, then reconsider Voris’s arguments.

So, a blogger named Calah Alexander (and how one person gets “famous” versus another in the blogosphere is beyond me, given that I’ve been doing this now for almost 10 years) “critiqued” (and I use the word loosely) Voris’s argument. The gist of her actual content is that her parents aren’t Catholic, and she loves her parents, and they should have the right to vote, and non-Catholics are good people, too. Uh-huh. She’s arguing from a completely different world view than the one Voris is coming from. Yes, the very definition of Natural Law is that non-Catholics should be able to know and accept Natural Law without accepting Catholic Revelation. However, is it really practical that a non-Catholic knows *every* aspect of Natural Law? How many non-Catholics, for example, support the notion of making contraception illegal? The other issue she touches on is the old “cradle Catholic” versus convert debate. In both cases, she unwittingly undermined her own argument.

Her post starts with that ubiquitous and highly offensive textspeak abbreviation, “OMG.” A commentor identifying herself as “KAT” said, “You lost me after the first three letters. What good come [sic] follow?” It gets worse. She proceeded to call Voris’s beliefs (and mine) by a crude word meaning excrement. Then she says “Don’t excuse my French, because I totally mean that word. . . . ” So this has led to a sideshow of debating the use of profanity. There are so many people foaming at the mouth to “Get Voris” that they’re not only ignoring but excusing and even supporting Alexander’s use of profanity. According to this guy, Voris’s use of online demagoguery is worse than Alexander taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Indeed, very little of the brouhaha has revolved around her taking the Lord’s name in vain–it mostly pertains to her use of a certain Anglo-Saxon word for execrement. Now, it’s interesting that, as a textbook on language from my wife’s college studies that I often refer to points out, we consider Latin-based words for body parts and functions to be OK, but Anglo-Saxon based words are considered obscene because they’re more guttural. A case may be made that it’s rather silly to consider “sh–” to be a bad word *in its proper context.* Indeed, the MPAA rates a movie differently if sh– refers to manure or the f word is used in its proper definition than if these words are used as mere expletives.

Patrick Madrid invited Alexander to come on his show and defend her use of profanity. By her own admission, she did a bad job on the show (I haven’t heard it), and in her follow up on her blog (“D-word” right in the title), and Patrick came right out with pointing out that it’s sinful, and she didn’t have much of a response, so she tried to make a response on her blog.

Alexander’s points in defense of profanity are, basically:
a. “There’s no such thing as a bad word”: Perhaps not in its proper context. “Hell” is not a bad word. Even telling someone, “If you proceed on that course of action, you put yourself in danger of Hell” is not bad–it is quite good; it’s a spiritual work of mercy (one for which Michael Voris often gets lambasted). “Damn” is not a bad word if used in its proper context. Certainly, the Lord’s Name is not a “bad word,” and one of the reasons why it’s wrong to take the Lord’s Name in vain is that you’re trivializing it.
Alexander’s argument is basically the same as that of people who say, “God made all things good, so cocaine and marijuana are OK.” They may be OK in the *proper* use God intended them for, but that doesn’t mean He intended them for “getting high.”
I’ve relayed the story before of the time when it was announced that Hasbro took away the comic book license for GI Joe from a company called “Devil’s Due.” I said on a message board that I’d always been uncomfortable with the name. A member who was a secular liberal said, sarcastically, “You do know they don’t mean it literally, don’t you?” I said, “Well, if they don’t, then they’re trivializing spiritual things.” “Oh, I never thought of it that way.” Taking the Lord’s name in vain can mean taking to oneself authority that belongs to God (declaring something worthy of damnation) or using profound concepts in a manner that loses all meaning.
It gets to the dilemma Flannery O’Connor illustrates with the Grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find”: when most people exclaim “God” or “Jesus” as a form of profanity, then it sounds profane when someone exclaims in authentic prayer.
This leads to another of Alexander’s arguments:
b. She claims there’s nothing wrong with exclaiming a curse word when one stubs one’s toe, etc., because everyone does it and it’s so common. No, as above, that’s still trivializing the concept, it’s trivializing the emotion. Yes, I am the first to note that the Church teaches that habit can mitigate culpability for a sin, but it’s still a sin. You may not have to confess every specific incident of cussing if you have a total potty mouth, but you should still confess the fact that you have the bad habit to be a potty mouth, and you should strive to overcome that habit, not justify it!
And what’s really wrong about cursing is the emotion behind it (see Matthew 5:26). It would be *ideal* if people had such a habit of virtue and such inner peace that they lose something and immediately say “St. Anthony, help me,” or they stub their toe and immediately say, “I offer this pain up with Jesus on the Cross.” It would be great if we could *not* react in anger to life’s inconveniences. It would be great if we could approach hardship with peace and serenity.

c. Alexander claims that particular words are not inherently profane, and if everyone used the same words, the new ones would be the new curse words. She seems obsessed with excrement, but I’ll use the example of “heck” instead. According to Alexander, if everyone started saying “What the heck,” that would eventually take on the same meaning as referring to Hades. Perhaps she is right, but in our *current* language usage, consciously opting for a less-offensive term will show some level of self-control and build up everybody.

d. Alexander says that some of her critics have said that it causes scandal for Catholic bloggers to use profanity. She doesn’t see how this is possible. She also says that “causes scandal” is a shorthand for people who don’t really have an argument. No, sorry, avoiding scandal is like a kindergarten level principle of Catholic morality, and to dismiss that concern is to negate the argument that started it all–that she objected to Voris a) saying non-Catholics don’t know as much about morality as Catholic do, and b) Voris supposedly saying or implying that there are areas of Catholic teaching that converts are a little weak on.

Alexander also seems to ignore the fact that swearing breeds swearing. Her kids will grow up to swear because they hear their mother doing it–that’s called scandal. She’s setting an example of sin for others. Conversely, setting a habit of saying a less offensive term, or not saying anything at all, or saying something nice, helps build up virtue in others. I’ve always insisted that of “sex, violence and language” in the media, offensive language is the worst because it’s the most easily replicated, and it sticks in one’s head.

I feel like I’m missing something, but it strikes me that in making her case, Alexander never one refers to the Bible or the Catechism. If the Commandments–2nd, 5th, 6th, and 8th in particular–aren’t enough reason not to use profanity, vulgarity and obscenity, what about Matthew 5? Colossians 3:8, Ephesians 4:29, Matthew 15:11, James 3:6-13, Ephesians 5:4, Matthew 12:36-37, 2 Timothy 2:16, Proverbs 21:23, Psalm 19:14, Luke 6:45, Colossians 4:6, Proverbs 4:24, Proverbs 6:12, Psalm 10:7, etc.?

And then there’s the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2146-2148
Catechism 2149 is particularly useful in rebutting Alexander’s “defense”:
“Oaths which misuse God’s name, though without the intention of blasphemy, show lack of respect for the Lord. The second commandment also forbids magical use of the divine name. ”
If words aren’t important, why does the Catechism say that eve one’s name is sacred? (2159).

This post is running long, but there’s a related issue I hoped to talk about, where a popular blog “Chicks on the Right” nearly lost its Facebook page for use of profanity, and “conservatives” were jumping to the defense of these potty-mouthed bloggers.

It’s shameful. Chesterton once said, “Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.”

e.

A Word on Michael Voris

I don’t know what to make of Michael Voris. However one would classify his “brand” of Catholicism, I’m it, though I find that Catholics who think the way we do tend to be so contrarian that they won’t even admit it. The sedes and SSPxers say he’s a coward because he basically says the same things they do but refuses to say there’s anything wrong with the Vatican.

I have said many times that if there’s any truth to “hermeneutic of continuity,” and if Vatican II was primarily about having a different approach to the world, then there should be nothing wrong with a Catholic choosing to keep looking at the world from a pre-Vatican II angle. This is what Voris does, basically. He takes 1950s, Baltimore Catechism style Catholicism and examines the present situation from that lens. He also condenses a lot of more sophisticated arguments in to talk show style soundbites.

For example, in one of Voris’s most controversial podcasts, he critiques “Amazing Grace” as anti-Catholic. I happen to agree with him, however unpopular that opinion may be. Simply because it is so “beloved,” people viscerally jump to the defense of a hymn that is overtly Protestant. It’s not so much the issue of being saved by “grace”–obviously, that’s Catholic dogma. It’s the “wretch” part–nice hyperbole, but bad theology. It’s Calvinist. The whole point of “Amazing Grace” is to express a Protestant notion that we’re completely passive in our salvation. Catholic teaching is that people are saved by grace because they have good will and choose to accept the invitation God gives everyone. Jesus uses the metaphor of blindness for those who hear the Word but refuse to accept it. No one who accepts the Word could have been blind before it.

Metaphors are important. We use metaphors in hymns for a reason. The popularity of the metaphor doesn’t make it any less dangerous. It doesn’t matter if the metaphor is in “Amazing Grace” or “Let us Sing a New Church”. I’ve never really cared for “Amazing Grace” because it’s so blatantly Protestant, and I don’t understand why Catholics give such honor to “traditional” Protestant hymns when there are so many traditional Catholic hymns we could be singing. I first heard the argument that the theology of “Amazing Grace” is distinctly non-Catholic not from Michael Voris, but from Marcus Grodi, the former Presbyterian minister. I also never understood how all those critiques of “contemporary” hymnody in Adoremus and Crisis, particularly the critiques of Protestant composers like Marty Haugen, don’t apply to “traditional” Protestant hymns, as well.

So, that’s just an example of an area where everyone jumps on Michael Voris but I think he’s right.

That said, I’ve only listened to a few of his podcasts, and only one or two in their entirety. Like a lot of people, there’s something in his style I find off-putting. It started with the original title of his “network,” “Real Catholic TV”, which implies that other Catholic broadcasters, including EWTN and SQPN, are not “real” Catholic networks.

I have a general policy against watching or listening to TV/radio news and talk shows, and Voris falls under that category. That policy derives from Ray Bradbury’s criticism of broadcast media versus text in _Farenheit 451_. Online is a little better than broadcast, since one can pause, rewind, etc., but it is still a more passive way to digest information than text, and it’s very personally agitating. I find, now that my aortic dissection makes me keenly aware of my blood pressure, that even listening to talk show host I agree with raises my blood pressure unnecessarily, so I avoid it.

So, where any debate involving Michael Voris is concerned, I have a certain disadvantage in that I usually do not know what he actually *said*, nor do I particularly care to.

One of the only podcasts I listened to all the way through was his infamous piece on Judaism, where I thought he laid out his arguments pretty well, and I partially agreed with his point, but I found that he made a few errors in his thought process. This is another example of my previous point, since such errors are easier to identify and work with in text than in a spoken, recorded lecture.

It seems poor Voris gets it from all sides, and that’s partly because he comes off as attacking everyone. Maybe he’s a prophet; maybe he’s a jerk. I dunno. One man’s prophet is another man’s jerk, and it’s ultimately up to God and history to sort out which.