Monthly Archives: April 2014

“Lift Up Your Hearts”

Just a thought:
When I was a kid, and the priest would say, “Lift up your hearts,” and everyone said, “We lift them up to the Lord,” so mechanically, it kind of freaked me out a bit.
As I grew older, in addition to understanding the spiritual meaning of it, I also kind of came to appreciate a more literal interpretation.
When I have chest pain at Mass, I lift up my heart.
When I have chest pain at home, I lift up my heart.

I finally heard the “My Little Pony Mass”

Dan Schutte, whose biggest claim to fame was ripping off the “Brady Bunch” theme song for “Here I Am, Lord,” has now written an entire mass setting that seems to be derived from the “My Little Pony” tune:
http://pblosser.blogspot.com/2014/04/dan-schuttes-glory-to-god-and-my-little.html
Even the local “youth Mass” we usually end up attending on Sunday evenings thankfully only stoops to using Contemporary Protestant music at Communion but sticks to more familiar 70s tunes. Schutte has apparently never written a Mass setting in his illustrious career. In spite of recent quotations about following the rubrics that have raised his status in my mind of late, his “new” setting published in the post-new translation edition of _Gather_ not only uses the hokey melody linked above, but it also breaks _Liturgiam Authenticam_ right out of the gate by changing the words.

So, anyway, we happened to attend St. Peter’s in Columbia today after my Carmelite meeting and got to hear this setting for the first time. Since St. John Paul II visited there in 1988, we went down the hall to make a pilgrimage to the chair he sat it, which used to be on display but isn’t anymore. Then we went to the wall of crucifixes I posted about a few years ago.
Joe asked, “Why do they still have *that* one?”
Buddhist Cross
Gianna said, “They shouldn’t have a Yin Yang Cross!”
Clara asked, “What’s a Yin Yang?”
Gianna said, “You don’t need to know about that till you’re my age.”

On the other hand, the lady in front of me knelt to receive Communion. The kids were very good for Mass, and when Joe asked me to take him to the bathroom after Communion, he came out, and I just stayed in the hall to say my prayers. He pointed to the sanctuary and asked, “When are we going back in there?”

T. S. Eliot’s _Four Quartets_ “East Coker” IV

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That quesions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind us of our, and Adam’s curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood-
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

The Day Before Spy Wednesday

How will you be celebrating Lenin’s Birthday–oops, I mean “Earth Day”– on Tuesday, April 22?

“I’m a little tea pot . . .”

A Parable

A rich man dies and leaves his very young children his entire fortune, his company, and a gigantic castle, more room in one building than they or their future families could ever need–holdings around the world that they will probably never travel to. Do they claim that as evidence their father never loved them or never existed?

Does a man who gives his children a small home love them more?

then why does the size of the universe or location of the earth matter, one way or the other, as to God’s existence and love?

John Ross Ewing III: not his father

“Junior, it’s time you learned the art of subtlety.  .. . . Because the lack of it turns competitors into enemies and enemies into fanatics.”
–John Ross “Jock” Ewing I

That advice from Jock Ewing to Larry Hagman’s J.R. in the pilot episode of Dallas, “Digger’s Daughter,” which aired April 2,  1978, could very easily establish the theme of the series.  While the original intention was Romeo and Juliet in the oil and cattle industries, Hagman’s portrayal of J.R. was so compelling that he became the break-out character and gradually the “main character,” the only series regular to be in all fourteen seasons (Ken Kercheval’s Cliff Barnes not being an official “regular” till the third or fourth).

In that sense, the recently retired Jock’s advice to his son served as a fitting theme.  In fourteen years, “Junior” never did learn “subtlety” in the way his father meant.  He kept making the same mistakes of hubris over and over, till the point that, in series finale “Conundrum,” he had lost just about everything due to making too many enemies.

Every villain is the hero of his own story, but that works many ways.  Hagman was successful by playing JR comically and by portraying him as thinking himself the hero, doing everything he did for his family’s own good.

Meanwhile, J.R. and Bobby’s sons, John Ross and Christopher, were often portrayed worrying their grandmother.  Miss Ellie would often express worry that they were too much like their Daddies, and that the family was doomed to another generation of feuding.  However, while in their play John Ross would sometimes cheat Christopher, in general John Ross was the “good boy,” and Christopher was the one creating mischief.  JR often worried that his son lacked the competitive edge to take up the legacy of his name.   Indeed, when his illegitimate firstborn James Richard Beaumont shows up in later years, JR lifts his usual contempt for “half breeds” to welcome a son who is a bit more interested in following in his footsteps.

Larry Hagman, Omri Katz and Linda Gray on the set of _JR Returns_

James (and the grandson he fathered,  who would be in his 20’s now) have not even been mentioned, but that tension is still at work in the character of John Ross as portrayed by Josh Henderson on the new series.  He isn’t in appearance or demeanor as “gentle” as Omri Katz’s portrayal of the character-there’s something very hard about him.  In recent weeks, he finally seems to be hitting his stride, but it’s been hard to sympathize with him as a character.

Josh Henderson and Larry Hagman in the new series

When the new show started 2 years ago, ignoring the two movies from the late 90s, it picks up almost like the beginning of Season 15.  JR is in a mental hospital recovering from an unspecified breakdown.  A fictional Facebook “timeline” suggests stories to fill the gap, but it could easily be picking up as if JR has been in the looney bin since he shot the mirror in 1991.

The Ewings are, largely, has-beens.  John Ross and Christopher each start the series trying to rebuild their family’s legacy.  While Christopher and Bobby have a standing relationship, John Ross and J.R. are estranged.  He wants to earn his father’s respect.  In the second season, J.R.’s death saddles John Ross with the legacy he was given in his name.

This season, the character seems to have come into his stride.  While he is still far more serious and dour than his father, we see him more as the “hero of his own story.”  We also see him not so much as the “villain who thinks he’s the good guy,” but as the reluctant villain.  More like Roger Thorpe than J.R. Ewing, he’s constantly struggling with the desire to *not* be what everyone expects him to be. I can truly see in him the need for Grace, the thought that he doesn’t really want to be this way and would welcome an “out”, that maybe with a slight shift in priorities, and truly establishing a relationship with Christ, he could be a better person.

The episode featured the introduction of yet another family, and another international connection: a vaguely defined Arab Sheikh who had a previous agreement with JR.  John Ross nearly loses the deal by failing to demonstrate “subtlety,” and then wins an alliance by showing it.

Meanwhile, we see an alliance of various competitors-turned-enemies and enemies-turned-fanatics due to the arrogance of both Jock Ewing’s namesakes, including the return of the McKay’s (with George Kennedy still living, perhaps at least a cameo by Carter McKay himself will come down the line).

It’s nice that they’re giving the character a slightly different angle rather than making him a straight-up copy of his father.

 

On a lighter side

The other day, the Facebook Page “Dallas Fanzine” posted the following photo of the casts of the four Lorimar TV series in production 1978-1979.  From stage right, they are: Dallas (minus Jim Davis, for some reason), Eight is EnoughThe Waltons and a short-lived series called Married: the First Year.Someone made the comment that, somewhere, in a parallel universe, Dallas  was an unsuccessful 1978 miniseries, and people are watching Married: the 35th Year on TNT.

News from the World of Geocentrism

First, it has been reported (coincidentally, by the same “Dallas Area Catholics” blog I cited yesterday) that controversial traditionalist (more on that in a moment) Fisher More College will be officially closing in May. They were controversial, as you may know, for issues ranging from leaning towards “radical” traditionalism to financial mismanagement to teaching geocentrism.
On a side note, the use of the term “radical traditionalist” or “RadTrad” has come to be the subject of controversy recently, and many across the board have called for the cessation of its usage due to lack of clarity and its having become something of an epithet. Fair enough, and when it comes to geocentrism, that steps way out of the range of even “Radical Traditionalism” into “just plain nuts.” It has become a pet cause of Robert Sungenis, formerly a mainstream Catholic apologist, turned schismatic trad., turned “in union with Rome” but still a bit off his rocker. Sungenis has produced a “documentary” called The Principle, trying to promote geocentrism, and has tapped none other than Kate Mulgrew to narrate it.

Here’s Kate Mulgrew as Admiral Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek Nemesis, the most depressing Trek movie ever.

The headline of the article posted about it on Monday and linked above reads, “‘Star Trek’ actress lends her gravitas to film promoting idea that sun revolves around Earth.”

I have several thoughts on this subject:

1) Going with the gut reaction that she somehow supports the project, it makes me kind of curious. Obviously, she’s one of Hollywood’s most openly Catholic actresses (one of the reasons she gets few roles). Like ex-Catholic Patricia Heaton, Mulgrew is very active in Feminists for Life and a few years ago took a break from acting to try and help her husband get elected governor of Ohio as a pro-life Democrat. From what I can tell, while, unlike Heaton, Mulgrew is economically liberal, and, like Heaton, liberal on non life-related moral issues. So it kind of surprises me that, as a more “progressive” Catholic politically, she would align herself with a far right, anti-Semitist on a geocentrism project. On the other hand, 10 years ago when he was popular on the interview circuit, Mel Gibson often said that, other than abortion his political views were generally more Left Wing, so maybe something similar is at work *if* she sees it as anything more than a paycheck.
2) OTOH, she’s not the first Trek star to lend her “gravitas” to a pseudo-science documentary (Leonard Nimoy and Jonathan Frakes come to mind).
3) However, what really strikes me is how people are taking issue with the use of the term “gravitas,” saying that she lacks “gravitas” because she isn’t a “real scientist.”

According to dictionary.com, “gravitas” means “seriousness or sobriety, as of conduct or speech.” It has nothing to do with academic credentials and everything to do with style.
Few “real scientists” have “gravitas.” It’s why St. Augustine in On Christian Doctrine said we need rhetoric and logic together. Another comment I saw was that she lacks gravitas because she started out in soaps. However again, good soap actors and actresses have lots of gravitas. One of the reasons Joan Collins quit her much publicized stint as Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light (and few actresses in TV history have had the “gravitas” of the late Beverlee McKinsey, for whom the role was created) was, by her own admission, she didn’t realize the acting ability daytime actually requires: learning and performing a new script every day, without the teleprompters everyone thinks they use(d).

Thank you, Bishop Jugis!

The Most Rev. Peter J. Jugis, JCD, bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte, NC, has finally come to the defense of Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, OP, STD, of the St. Cecilia Mother House and Aquinas College in Nashville, TN, saying he found nothing wrong with her talk and that she’s always welcome in his diocese!!
Meanwhile, Deacon Greg Kandra shares an anonymous email from a mom at one of the Charlotte Middle Schools that supports Charlotte Catholic High School, saying that the majority of parents there really are faithful Catholics and are usually very supportive of Fr. Matthew Kauth.  She claims the dissenters are a very vocal minority who fed the controversy with support from outside forces, that most of the parents were mainly upset about the consent issues (the aspect to which I agreed).
If you took the time, as I did, to request this action, please also take the time, as I did, to thank His Excellency.

If Republicans are so “rich”

Why does one executive’s $1000 donation to a “right wing” political campaign 6 years ago make headlines?
Last week, by coincidence nationally and because of reflecting on the anniversary of my surgery, locally, I was looking up one of the surgeons who did my aortic replacement last year.  Long story short, he made headlines back in 2004 for giving $500 to Charlie Condon’s campaign for US Senate (in which Condon ultimately lost to Jim DeMint).  Unless it’s a typo, the newspaper spent probably more than $500 worth of column space just to say that a local surgeon gave $500 to a Republican political campaign.

Why is that news if Republicans are the “party of the rich”?  We know ordinary Democrats who regularly give thousands of dollars to campaigns, yet they don’t get entire articles written about them in newspapers.  Hmmm..

Why Kenny Rogers and John Lennon were wrong

“The best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep,” said one.
“Imagine all the people living for today,” said the other.

Our neighbors like to have bonfires on the weekends and play the radio.  Usually, they do it in fall and our relatively mild winters, but, given the bad winter we’ve had, coupled with yard debris, they’ve been having them the last several weekends.  When we were leaving for Mass, the repulsive “Imagine” started playing on the radio at the neighbors’.  I quickly started the car engine, knowing it was on Casting Crowns.  I thought about switching to Fr. Antonio Vivaldi’s _Four Seasons_, but figured I’d rather hear content to get Lennon’s book of Marx out of my head (so to speak; “Imagine” came out nearly a year after “American Pie”).  I didn’t, and it fit in with the weekend’s meditations.

“Imagine all the people living for today”??
That’s exactly why we’re in the mess we’re in.  That’s what Thomas Hobbes famously describes as the state of nature: the war of “all against all” because everyone is “living for the moment,” and “the life of man [is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

"YOLO? No, bro"

Living for today is a good thing if you’re focused on the eternal “today” that is our destiny.

In his address at the 1998 Seattle C. S. Lewis Institute, Peter Kreeft quoted Voltaire saying that too many people had their minds on Heaven and Hell and not on France.  “I don’t know where Voltaire is now,” said Kreeft, “but, wherever he is, he’s not in France.”

Me with Peter Kreeft and Tom Howard

Me with Peter Kreeft and Tom Howard

Liturgically, this weekend’s theme of course was resurrection in anticipation of the upcoming Easter.  Saturday, we also celebrated the Memorial of St. Vincent Ferrer, known for his preaching on the Last Things, for promoting the following:

Prayer of St. Vincent Ferrer to be Sinless at the Hour of Death

Lord Jesus Christ, who willest that no man should perish, and to whom supplication is never made without the hope of mercy, for Thou saidst with Thine own holy and blessed lips: “All things whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, shall be done unto you”; I ask of Thee, O Lord, for Thy holy name’s sake, to grant me at the hour of my death full consciousness and the power of speech, sincere contrition for my sins, true faith, firm hope and perfect charity, that I may be able to say unto Thee with a clean heart: Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit: Thou hast redeemed me, O God of truth, who art blessed forever and ever. Amen. 

As we usually do, ironically, when I actually make it to Mass with my family, we went to the “last chance” college Mass, with a very kindly priest of the Holy Father’s generation who tends to overemphasize, as it were, “Niceness.”  He gives pleasant, uplifting homilies but never really challenges people.   He has a lot of good qualities, but I found his homily a bit lacking in the caution that should come with these themes.

“I am one of those who believe this life isn’t all there is.”
I should hope so.
He emphasized, “But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” (Rom 8:10).

He kind of left out the conditions “if” and “because of righteousness” and went with, “Christ is in all of us, so we’re all going to be together.”  He phrased it in that “ambiguous” manner that typifies his era, but he definitely promoted presumption.
I don’t know if it was posted because of St. Vincent, or the Sunday liturgy, or just an act of Divine Inspiration, but a blogger who goes by Tantamergo at “Dallas Area Catholics” posted a great piece on praying for a Happy Death, particularly praying for the opportunity to be conscious, as St. Vincent recommends above, so we can invoke Our Lady in our dying days, with various examples from Saints to that effect.
Thus, it was dismaying coming into Mass with those things in mind to hear Father say how most of his family were dead, and they’d all died of cancer, and he hoped to be fortunate enough to die in his sleep or suddenly!
No, the best we can hope for is not to die in our sleep; it is to die fully aware so that we’re not further punished for putting off our repentance.

Reports claim that Yellowstone is getting closer to eruption, and the animals are fleeing.   Others say that the supervolcano theory hasn’t been proven, that the animals are just engaging in normal migration, etc.  I say that, obviously, if they knew it was going to happen, they wouldn’t want to trigger mass chaos by saying that a mass extinction event is coming.  Either way, whether it’s Yellowstone, cancer, a heart attack, a gang playing the “knock out game,” or the proverbial bus, we must all heed Our Lord’s warning to store up treasure in Heaven, not on Earth.  Whether we die tomorrow or 90 years from now, we’ll still face the same personal judgement and the same two options for Eternity.  We worry so much about preparing for “retirement,” or how to survive various disasters, but do we worry about what will happen if we die a sudden and unprovided death?

Daily examination of conscience
Daily devotion to Our Lady and to Our Lord’s Passion
Self-sacrifice and almsgiving
Frequent recourse to the Sacraments
and, most of all
Praying daily that we and our loved ones will experience a “Happy Death,” with complete Confession, the Anointing, Viaticum, and the Apostolic Blessing (collectively, “Last Rites”).

These must be everyone’s priorities.

Why “Gay Marriage” Matters

Even many who profess faith in Christ insist that “gay marriage,” even as a civil entity, doesn’t hurt anybody.  Examples like “husband” and “wife” being changed everywhere to “spouse 1” and “spouse 2” should be enough for starters.  Then there is the increasing persecution of those who oppose the homosexualist political agenda: CEOs being fired from companies they co-founded,

Brendan Eich, who helped invent Java and Firefox, fired from Mozilla for a $1000 donation made 6 years ago.

and nuns being persecuted by the Church.

Should be speaking everywhere, not silenced

Of course, the latter was justified by “Catholics” bearing false witness against the Holy Father by saying his statements that homilists must talk about more than a few disjointed moral teachings means that none of us is supposed to talk about the specific examples, ever.

It all goes back to my old saying that we lost the Culture Wars before they began, at the 1929 Lambeth Conference.   The slippery slope that  led us to the current gay marriage debate started when the Anglicans became the first Christians to permit birth control, as Pius XI and Paul VI predicted.  Anyone who has tried to teach Catholic morality even in CCD, much less Catholic school, in the past generation or two knows how awkward it is to tell kids divorce and remarriage is a sin when their parents are divorced and remarried, that swearing is a sin when even their mothers cuss like sailors, or that birth control is a sin when everyone else uses it.  I went to high school with kids whose parents were NFP instructors, and even *they* would say things like, “It’s a sin for us but not for other people,” or “It’s better to tell teenagers to use birth control than to have them get pregnant or STDs.”

I think the persecution of Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, OP, STD, has as much to do with her speaking about the negative consequences of divorce as anything else.  Indeed, the claim of Aquinas College that Sr. Jane is outside her academic credentials by talking of anthropology negates the traditional hierarchy of academic disciplines that a Dominican should be the first to recognize.

Soon-to-be St. John Paul II, who doesn’t mince words in Evangelium Vitae about the Conspiracy of Death, writes in Theology of the Body that the entire of Catholic anthropology is based in the Creation Account: indeed, that is the whole point of TOB.  From man being made male and female in the image of likeness of God and to be “one flesh” to the fact of Original Sin, JPII’s explication of the first three or four chapters of Genesis and Jesus’ teachings on marriage shows how everything else in theology stems from those passages.  He argues that the danger of Darwinism, and its importance to secularists, is that without a Creator, without teleology, without man being a soul/body hybrid, without Original Sin itself, then man is not a moral creature, and ultimately anything goes.

Something similar is at work in the Culture Wars in the contemporary West.  From contraception at one end to “marriage equality” at the other, advocates of “most favored sins” tend to promote each other’s cause: nobody wants to be perceived as a “hypocrite,” after all.  If some “bossy” Thomistic nun wants to start talking about sexual morality, then so much for “voices of women in the Church”!

And that’s the ultimate agenda of the Culture of Death (and, yes, Pope John Paul himself states repeatedly in Gospel of Life and elsewhere that it’s a conspiracy).    It’s even the agenda of those who, in the name of preventing child abuse, expose children to graphic “sex education.”  Obviously, Satan wants everyone in Hell, and Satan’s agents, whether they realize they are or not, need to encourage others to sin so they can feel justified in their own filth.

The 1988 Don Bosco film that used to run on EWTN before the 2004 version came out has subplots involving a brothel next door to St. John’s Oratory.  In one scene, there’s a commotion outside the brothel: two prostitutes get into a “cat fight.”  The boys stop their play and study to see what’s going on.  The Saint cuts through the crowd and pulls the two hookers apart.  “You people can drown in your sins, if you want!” he cries.  “But if a single one of my boys is lost because of you, not one of you can be saved!”

Harsh, you say?  Remember Our Lord calls for anyone who causes a child to sin to be drowned (Matthew 18:6).

That’s what’s at stake in “gay marriage.”

When I can no longer watch Wheel of Fortune with my kids because of a contestant introduction like, “So you’re getting married? . . . You found some nice young lady to marry you?” “Gentleman, actually,” that affects my family.
When we’re watching The Middle, and an ad comes on for Modern Family with two men talking about “their wedding,” and a cake topper with two men, that affects my family.
“Why?” asks the person who actively or passively supports same sex marriage.  “Are you afraid of them?  They’re nice people.”
No.
“Do you think you’re kid’s going to be gay?”
No.
Every child at some point wants to know why boys can’t marry boys or girls can’t marry girls, and “because they’re not supposed to” is usually a sufficient answer.

If society isn’t going to back that up, and if “the Church” isn’t even going to back that up, then one is left stranded explaining Natural Law.  It’s hard enough having to gloss over other issues.

They do not think parents have the right to teach their children morality or even to protect their children’s mental purity at a young age.   Then there are the increasing accounts of children at young ages becoming addicted to porn or committing sexual abuse because of things they’ve seen online.

When that stuff is literally everywhere, there comes a point when parents are forced to explain certain things to children that are not otherwise age appropriate–and that’s exactly what these demonic perverts want.

Apparently an STD doesn’t Qualify A Nun to Talk about STDs (so to speak)

So, thanks to screaming protests and threats by thousands of “parents” at a Catholic high school in Charlotte, NC, not only has Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, OP, STD, of the St. Cecilia Dominican Congregation and its affiliated Aquinas College in Nashville, TN, been disinvited from future speaking engagements in the Charlotte Diocese: she has now “voluntarily” stepped down from both speaking and even teaching at the famously orthodox college.

Why has Sr. Jane been subjected to more censure than the “nuns on a bus” or the Leadership Conference of Women Religious or the National Coalition of American Nuns?
For citing studies that argue that homosexual inclinations are learned, not innate and supposedly for stepping outside the range of her academic expertise!

I’m sure if a nun had said, “Studies prove homosexuals are born that way and have no control over their behavior,” the few parents who might have voiced objections would have been ignored.

If the expression of the Truth is not safe in those circumstances, an orthodox nun from an orthodox order and college speaking at the invite of an orthodox pastor under an orthodox bishop, we’re all doomed.

The “parents” who came to the “parents only” meeting and apparently exceeded the number of enrolled families should be ashamed.   The injustice of this whole thing breaks my heart.