Category Archives: USCCB

DACA and AL: if you do it long enough it’s OK

First, as I’ve said many times, I think the GOP should propose a law with a path for citizenship for illegal aliens and personhood/citizenship for the unborn.

Second, usual caveat that “I voted for Castle,” and I have no particular opinion of Steven Bannon, one way or the other.

However, I would like to present a few scenarios for your consideration:
1) A school says “We think plagiarism is bad.  A first offense is a failure of the assignment.  A second offense is a failure of the course.  A third offense is expulsion.  Oh, but if you’ve been plagiarizing for 4 years of school, and we find out a month before graduation, you’ll be allowed to graduate with those who have been working hard.”
2) A man loses his job.  He decides that applying for disability/unemployment, Medicaid, etc., is too difficult and/or demeaning and would require too  long a wait so he starts stealing for a living (i.e., Fun with Dick and Jane).  He steals for years.  His children grow up learning to steal with him.  He gets caught after years of stealing.  Do we let him off because he’s been doing it so long and because his children are involved?
3) A family jump the fence of a rich Hollywood celebrity or a bishop and declare themselves residents of his home.  Technically, per Catholic Social Teaching, there is a greater obligation for the celebrity or the bishop to share his residence than for a country to allow open immigration–and in the latter case, try emigrating to the Vatican and see how that works out.

This is the struggle I have with the concept of “amnesty” for illegal immigrants and their families.  I used to take a stronger pro- stance, but then legal immigrants or second/third generation Mexican-Americans whose relatives came here illegally convinced me that it’s an injustice to those who work hard to come here.

And the same is true of the controversy around Amoris Laetitiae: if you point out it’s a double insult to the victims of adultery who already suffer from “no fault” divorce and rubber-stamp annulments.  It’s like saying, “If you’ve sinned long enough, you’re OK,” on this narrow group of sins, but would the same reasoning apply to a serial killer or a racist or a thief?

In the current discussion, there are three issues at play:
1) How best to handle illegal immigration (and this is far too complex an issue, morally or legally). What I do know is that arguments from emotion or “justice” work both ways, and I tend to focus on the injustice towards those who are struggling or have struggled to follow the US’s existing laws that are already more generous than most countries’s immigration laws. I see this as basically the equivalent of “plagiarism is bad but if you’ve been plagiarizing all through school and just got caught right before graduation we won’t expel you.” Just as the “justice” and “mercy” of AL is unmerciful towards the victims of adultery and the children of the first marriage. At the same time, aspects of US law regarding refugees are inconsistent and purely political.
2) Whether the president has the right to legislate via Executive Order, and he doesn’t. Outside of a proper Catholic monarchy, the only way to even remotely protect against corruption and dictatorship is a precisely worded Constitution implemented literally (this is a principle Aristotle understood two and a half millennia ago). Dictators always act in what they think is “justice.”
3) Whether the bishops have “moral authority” to be expressing “moral outrage” over one particular aspect of US immigration policy, particularly on the grounds of a supposed absolute obligation to enforce positive Scriptural law in a particular way. If that is the case, if refusal to “welcome the stranger” regardless of the circumstance is a moral duty, then they should be leading by personal example. Saying that it’s wrong to hop the bishop’s wall and declare yourself a resident of his palace but it’s right to hop the border and declare yourself a resident of another country is hypocrisy.

 

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Evening Prayer II

If you are a brother or sister in Carmel, or a member of a parish or town named for Our Lady under this title, happy Solemnity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel! If you are not, happy optional memorial! (A little humor)

You can find the Carmelite “Propers” (the parts of the Liturgy of the Hours specific to different feasts; as opposed to the Ordinary and the Commons) at this site http://carmelcanada.org/liturgy/office.pdf.
If you can find a way to access the site, please make a donation to them for their service. It is a tragic injustice that the liturgy, which is supposed to be the common prayer of the Church, is copyrighted. I understand in one sense why, but I wanted to provide a convenient blend of the texts, since, though praying online is helpful, flipping between screens or apps can be distracting and cause things to refresh.
So I’ve provided links to different sites, and reflections on each passage to fall under “fair use,” while providing a guide to deeper prayer. Again, please donate to the people who provide these great services for free.

God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

[Hymn]

Flos Carmeli, vitis florigera,
Splendor cæli, virgo puerpera, singularis.
Mater mitis sed viri nescia
Carmelitis esto propitia, stella maris.
Radix Iesse germinans flosculum
Hic adesse me tibi servulum patiaris.
Inter spinas quæ crescis lilium
Serva puras mentes fragilium tutelaris.
Armatura fortis pugnantium
Furunt bella tende præsidium scapularis.
Per incerta prudens consilium
Per adversa iuge solatium largiaris.
Mater dulcis Carmeli domina,
plebem tuam reple lætitia qua bearis.
Paradisi clavis et ianua,
Fac nos duci quo, Mater, gloria coronaris.

Ant. 1 I am the Handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you have said.”
Psalm 122I rejoiced when I heard them say: “Let us go to God’s house.” And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built as a city strongly compact. It is there that the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord. For Israel’s law it is, there to praise the Lord’s name. There were set the thrones of judgment of the house of David. For the peace of Jerusalem pray: “Peace be to your homes! May peace reign in your walls, in your palaces, peace!” For love of my brethren and friends I say: “Peace upon you!” For love of the house of the Lord I will ask for your good. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: — as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. – See more at: http://divineoffice.org/xmas-0101-ep2/#sthash.vQumIqyC.dpuf

How does this speak to us as Brothers (and Sisters) of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel?

Ant. 2Mary heard the word of God and kept it; she pondered it in her heart.
Psalm 127
If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil. In vain is your earlier rising, your going later to rest, you who toil for the bread you eat, when he pours gifts on his beloved while they slumber. Truly sons are a gift from the Lord, a blessing, the fruit of the womb. Indeed the sons of youth are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. O the happiness of the man who has filled his quiver with these arrows! He will have no cause for shame when he disputes with his foes in the gateways. Glory…
See also http://www.athanasius.com/psalms/psalms5.html

this is one of my favorite Psalms. It speaks particularly to the vocation of the secular, but also to the spiritual fatherhood and motherhood of the Friars and Nuns. The first historical Carmelites were former soldiers who laid down their physical arms for spiritual warfare. The Scapular is both our shield and our token from Our Lady.

Ant. 3The Apostles were constantly at prayer together, with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Canticle – See Revelation 19:1-7
Alleluia.
Salvation, glory, and power to our God:
(Alleluia.)
his judgments are honest and true.
Alleluia (alleluia).

Alleluia.
Sing praise to our God, all you his servants,
(Alleluia.)
all who worship him reverently, great and small.
Alleluia (alleluia).

Alleluia.
The Lord our all-powerful God is King;
(Alleluia.)
Let us rejoice, sing praise, and give him glory.
Alleluia (alleluia).

Alleluia.
The wedding feast of the Lamb has begun,
(Alleluia.)
and his bride is prepared to welcome him.
Alleluia (alleluia). Glory…

See also http://www.liturgies.net/Liturgies/Catholic/loh/mary/eveningprayerii.htm
How are we preparing ourselves to welcome our spiritual Bridegroom?

A Reading from the Letter to the Galations (4:4-6)

4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5
to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. 6 As proof that you are children,* God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. See http://www.usccb.org/bible/galatians/4

To be brothers of Our Lord, we must humbly accept the mantle of obedience, as He did.

Responsory
I will cry out with joy to the Lord;
my soul will rejoice in my God.
–I will cry out with joy to the Lord;
my soul will rejoice in my God.
For he has clothed me with the garment of salvation and robed me in a mantle of justice.
–My soul will rejoice in my God.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
–I will cry out with joy to the Lord;
my soul will rejoice in my God.
“Receive, my beloved son, this habit of your Order. This shall be to you and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire.”

Canticle of Mary
Ant. Today we received the Virgin Mary as our mother. Today, she has taken pity on us. Today, all Carmel rejoices in the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin, whose name we bear.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my Spirit rejoices in God, my Savior, for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant. From this day forward, all generations will call me blessed, for the almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name. He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation. He has shown the strength of His Arm; He has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things; the rich He has sent away empty. He has come to the help of His servant, Israel. For He has remembers His promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham, and his children, forever. Glory . . .

The privilege of the Scapular is neither a symbol nor a superstition, but to die clothed with the Scapular, the garment of work in a religious habit, is to die doing God’s work.

As we honor the holy Holy Mother of God, under whose name and patronage we live, let us pray with confidence to Christ our Lord and say:
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

You said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven”;
–may we stand with Mary among the poor and humble of the Lord, so that you may be our only wealth.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

You said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”;
–in following the Immaculate Virgin may we come to live that purity of heart which makes us eager to see the Father’s Face.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

You said, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe”;
–with Mary at our side, may we never cease to trust in the love You have for us as we journey in this night of faith.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

You said, “You ought to pray always and never lose heart”;
–teach us to pray like Mary, treasuring Your Word in our hearts and proclaiming it in our lives.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

You said, “A new commandment I give you; love one another as I have loved you”;
–united in heart and mind, may we be ready to spend our lives for our brothers and sisters and share with Mary in Your work of redemption.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

Dying on the cross, You said to John, and through him to all disciples, “Behold your Mother”;
–may all those who trusted in Your everlasting mercy [especially ____] rejoice one day with you and Mary in our Father’s house.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.

Here list your own intentions.
Through the intercession of the Mother of Carmel, hear us, O Lord.
Our Father .. . .

Prayer
Lord God, You willed that the Order of Carmel should be named in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Your Son. Through her prayers, as we honor her today, bring us to your holy Mountain, Christ Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

May the Lord bless us, protect from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.


St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the malice and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into Hell Satan, and all the other evil spirits, who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Click here for my Litany to Carmelite Saints

Pray and fast. And Fast.

When a mass shooter professes atheism or devil worship, posts anti-Christian and pro-abortion screeds online, considers himself a Democrat, etc., the media blame guns. If he’s Muslim, they blame guns and his victims, or say “workplace violence.” If he’s supposedly Christian, anti-abortion, and/or conservative, they blame Christians, abortion opponents and/or conservatives for “hate speech.”

What do all these inconsistent attributions have in common?

They never blame the evil in men’s hearts. They never blame the shooter himself (or herself) for just intending evil.

Why?

The foundation of liberalism (in all its forms) is the denial of original sin, promulgated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  For almost 400 years, people have been soaking in Rousseau’s teaching that people are born good and corrupted by society–without any real explanation of where corruption, then, comes from–that by giving people more education, more money, more this, more that, reforming this institution and getting rid of that one, somehow they can come up with the right formula for “curing” evil.

“We can end terrorism by doing X”
“We can prevent war by Y”

If a behavior, particularly a sexual behavior, *does* seem inborn and not learned, then the liberal insists that behavior must not be wrong.

Russell Kirk sees this as one of the basic lines of demarcation between what constitutions a “conservative” or a “liberal”: whether one believes in some form of “original sin” or one believes in Rousseau’s teaching that evil is learned.

Recently, I learned some background on Rousseau I’d never heard before by watching this Fulton Sheen rerun on EWTN:

When I did the VIRTUS training, something struck me: in the video about sexual predators, the “experts,” psychologists, law enforcement people, and most notably, the clergy, talked about psychology and “reasons” why they thought pedophiles hurt children.  Nobody mentioned the Devil.  The only ones who actually talked about evil were the convicted child molestors they interviewed: “People try to say this is about love.  It isn’t,” they said.  “I wanted to do evil.  I wanted to hurt these children.”

When I was in school, I forget whether it was the nondenominational school I attended in 6th grade or the Catholic high school, I remember a video featuring a former Satanist who said he set out to break every commandment in the worst way possible to gain admittance into a coven and gain magical powers.  An imprisoned would-be school shooter claims he was going to do it because he’s a Satanist, and that he had posted about it on a message board, that Satanists rank themselves and seem power from the Devil by murder.  Supposedly at least one of the recent shooters was involved in such a group.

Yet if you talk about the Devil, people claim you’re making excuses, when they’ll gladly blame guns or just about any other external “cause” than the person’s evil intent or demonic influence.

Pray and fast, and fast.

Praying the Office Online

I’ve been praying the Office since 1997 or ’98. My aunt and uncle sent me a copy of _Christian Prayer_ for, I believe, my Confirmation. My wife also had a copy she’d received from an uncle. We bought the four volume set (at least two of one). The latter is tricky because despite my best efforts, I always seem to be unable to find the correct volume for the season. The one volume versions have both fallen apart from use.

One of the goals of Vatican II was to make the Liturgy of the Hours more accessible to laity, reducing its complexity, but many people are still intimidated by all the “ribbons,” keeping track of the Psalter, the Proper of Seasons, the Proper of Saints, and the various Commons, etc.

It was about 10 years ago that I started thinking how it should be relatively easy to create an interactive version of the Office using HTML, where one could click on a link, bringing up a frame with the appropriate materials, and providing choices for optional memorials, or memorials celebrated as personal Feasts, etc.

So, I created several HTML files in Word, and made it part of my daily prayer to type the relevant sections into the appropriate files.

Then I discovered that others were already deep into similar projects, and I saw little need to recreate their work, though some of the problems still remain, as I will discuss in reviewing and linking each site in this post.

The Liturgy of the Hours is one of the oldest prayer forms in the Church, and is used by Catholics, the various Orthodox churches and many “mainline” Protestant denominations. In Roman Catholic (as opposed to Byzantine/Orthodox) theology, the Liturgy of the Hours is “public prayer” or liturgy, an extension of the Mass. To pray the Office is to pray “with the Church,” so it’s important the words be as unified as possible. This is distinguished from “private devotion.” So, in a popular internecine debate among faithful Catholics, 1,000 people saying the Rosary are in “private prayer,” while one person praying the Office under certain circumstances is engaging in “public prayer.” Catholic clergy (bishops, priests, deacons), religious (nuns, monks, friars, sisters) and members of secular orders are under canonical obligation to say the Office but also have the grace of praying “publicly” even when we’re “alone,” because in sharing the common texts that others are praying around the world, we are joining with them spiritually. For laity who are not in Third Orders, it’s still a private devotion, unless they’re saying it in community with others. Thus, the “trick” with online adaptations is whether the translations are appropriate.

Even a few years ago, there were not as many options there are now.

One of the first sites providing a daily Breviary online was Universalis, which is based out of England and provides detailed information on the degree to which its texts are approved for various English-speaking countries. It has gotten much more elaborate, of course, since 2005, and it provides apps. For those under obligation, I just discovered that Universalis provides the official Latin translations, so if you’re extra-cautious about whether the translation is official, you can always just use Latin. 🙂

Perhaps the most popular and well-made, and the one I use most regularly, is DIvineOffice.org.
It has all its copyrights in order and uses the canonically approved texts for the US. It also has very well-made podcasts of a group of people praying the Office, with licensed hymns, and the participants (mostly volunteers who, IIRC, started the project as a way of teaching the Office to an RCIA class) alternate methods of communal praying: sometimes chanting the Psalms, sometimes repeating the antiphons, sometimes having one person read or sometimes alternating. You can read the text with no audio, listen to the audio, or read and listen. The audio usually takes about 20-25 minutes for morning prayer and 15-20 minutes for evening prayer, depending upon how much is chanted.

Before Divine Office, I used to use PrayStation Portable from Fr. Roderick Vonhogen’s SQPN. I used to also have it on an RSS feed here but found it was unreliable. Sometimes, it seems to update too quickly and you can’t find the actual links for the day. Other times, there was a delay in posting. I hope they’ve fixed those issues, but it’s been a while since I followed it. It’s just Fr. Roderick reading it, not a group of people, and much simpler, but he does include prayer requests that listeners send him as part of the General Intercessions.

Plenty of websites and apps offer the Traditional Breviary, and several sites offer the various offices of Eastern Churches.

The added challenge, which led to my most recent discovery of a treasure trove of sites, is praying “Optional Memorials,” days that are not on the “General Calendar” (such as the Discalced Carmelite Propers), days that are personal/community Feasts or Solemnities, etc.

CatholicCulture.org* has a cool Liturgical Calendar page with the Feast(s) or Saint(s) of the day on both the Extraordinary Form and Ordinary Form Roman Calendars, Collects, devotional prayer suggestions and other activities. So, if I’m looking for a Collect that’s not in DivineOffice.org, I have been turning to CatholicCulture.

Still, if it’s a day where I want, say, the Common of Doctors or the Common of the Blessed Virgin, and DivineOffice just has the regular Four Week Psalter options, I often find myself searching the Internet, and recently those searches have proven more fruitful:

Liturgy Archive is exactly what I imagined 10 years ago. It is a basic HTML page with links to every option for the entire year: the liturgical seasons, and the collect for every saint on the general calendar. It also has the Commons. So now, when it’s a Carmelite day, I go there for the Commons. I don’t know what their arrangements are with the copyright-enforcing USCCB, but it’s all there for now. Its wider “Archive” has both internal and external links for a variety of liturgical prayers from a number of Christian traditions.

iBreviary is also very good. Indeed, when I heard people say “iBreviary,” I always thought they meant “Divine Office.org”. It is based out of Italy, and defaults to Italian but offers a variety of language options, including both Latin and the official (Grail Psalter) English translations. It is a relatively simple website but is oriented towards tablets.

eBreviary offers everything in PDF format but only offers certain parts for free on its website or App and otherwise requires a subscription because of the copyrights.

More and more, with all these apps available, priests, deacons and religious are finding their confreres praying along in chapel with their phones, tablets and eReaders.

Pope Francis and Fred Phelps

Pope Francis holding a Monstrance at Eucharistic Adoration

One of these days, I’ll get around to updating my banner

This week, “Who am I to judge” was back in the headlines as Pope Francis gave a homily on Luke 6:36-38:

“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.

More recently, however, His Holiness showed another example of what he does *not* mean when he warned the Mafia that they’re in danger of Hell.
Meanwhile, in an example of what “judge not lest ye be judged” most definitely *does* mean, poor Fred Phelps, Sr.. Phelps’s story is a tragic example of the path of heresy: starting out with zeal for the Lord but losing the love he had at first (Rev 2:4). He started as a reknowned civil rights activist known for participation in the _Brown v. Board of Education_ case and moved on to peace activism but somehow, while apparently retaining those positions became known for a strong “anti-gay” polemic (that is to say, “anti-homosexual,” rather than “anti-homosexuality”). His “congregation” Westboro Baptist became known for protesting various funerals, ranging from soldiers (see anti-war, above) to prominent homosexuals to children, with their notorious “God hates [sinners]” signs.

It was hard to find a pic that did not feature one of his repulsive signs.

So, what of Fred Phelps?

Objectively speaking:

1. He promoted hate, making a career (both as a disbarred lawyer and as a “minister” without any ties to any “denomination” or “hierarchy”) out of attacking various individual and social evils with straight-on hate rather than authentic zeal or love. He “lived by the sword” and by “judging others,” to the extent that his own family will not have a funeral for him because they don’t “worship [or pray for] the dead.” Again, most certainly if someone lived the opposite of “judge not, lest ye be judged,” it was Fred Phelps.
2. He was anti-Catholic, attacked the Church Jesus founded, and presumably, as someone who claimed to know the Bible, read and ignored John 20:23 and James 5:16 (“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.”) How can one who is Baptized and claims to know the Bible be forgiven of mortal sin without the Sacrament of Reconciliation? He not only preached that pretty much everyone was damned to Hell but also helped keep people away from that powerful Sacrament, and he discouraged praying for the poor souls in Purgatory.
3. Oddly united just about everyone in hating him back or pitying him. From atheist and “gay rights” leaders to conservative Christians, many people outside his own congregation have called for treating his death with compassion and forgiveness, while others are calling for counter protests like, “God hates Fred.” Already, cartoons and memes are appearing joking about him potentially being in Hell.

Certainly, if there’s anyone we can say with certainty is in Hell, it’s Fred Phelps, right?

Wrong.

We can’t do that.

I always imagine personal judgement as the personal encounter described by St. Teresa of Avila and by St. Faustina, Jesus coming to the person and the person reacting either with love or with fear and loathing–or perhaps C. S. Lewis’s version where the person is greeted by the person they would least want to see in Heaven who is there (_The Great Divorce_ is a must-read).

I look at the life of Fred Phelps and wonder how it’s possible, objectively *or* subjectively, for him to face personal judgement and embrace the love and forgiveness of Christ? I imagine rather the response of Javert, the response of Judas after the Last Supper in the 1973 _Jesus Christ Superstar_ movie, where Jesus tries to give him a blanket, even after he has publicly denounced Jesus and left the company of Apostles, and Judas recoils.


Nevertheless, I also have to hope that his reaction is different. I have to hope that he repented even in those split seconds of death and was snatched from the Devil’s grasp, because otherwise, what hope to I have? What hope do any of us have? Fred Phelps may have been greeted by the souls of every saved person whose funeral he picketed, and how did he react? What if he reacted by asking forgiveness?

So what if, when you or I have our time, we find ourselves face-to-face with Jesus–and with Fred Phelps, or Adolf Hitler, or Judas Iscariot? Someone we were absolutely convinced was beyond asking God’s forgiveness yet wasn’t? How would we react? Would we ask, “How could You forgive *HIM* and not me??”

One final point: if he did repent of his mortal sins, he definitely had a lot of Purgatory in store to clear away his attachments.  Pray for him, since by his own doing he has taught his family and friends not to.

For further reading, an older post I often link at times like this:
“Absalom and the Prodigal Son”

What do we have to fear?

Supposedly, there are 50 Reasons Why We Should Fear the Worst from Fukushima.

Bankers keep committing suicide.

We keep hearing about dangers of nukes, ships, and EMPs from Iran, China and North Korea.

IRS.  NSA.  TSA.  DHS.

Obamacare.

Monsanto.

Cancer.

We are constantly being told to worry about the future: about money, health, property, “safety” and “security.”

41 The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 42 There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-42, NAB).

Do we live “according to the flesh” or “according to the spirit”?

5 For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit. . . . 35What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? (Romans 8:5,35, NAB)

It just when we say “peace and security” that the “Day of the Lord” will come on us like a “thief in the night.” (1 Thess 5:2-3).

7  “When you hear of wars and reports of wars do not be alarmed; such things must happen, but it will not yet be the end.  8 Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes from place to place and there will be famines. These are the beginnings of the labor pains.  9 Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them. . . . 11 When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say. But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit. . . . 14 When you see the desolating abomination standing where he should not (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, . . . 15 [and] a person on a housetop must not go down or enter to get anything out of his house. . . . 35 Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. 36 May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. (Mark 13, NAB)

We should only fear one thing: offending Jesus. That’s it.

And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. (Matthew 10:28, NAB)

If we put as much effort into frequent Confession and daily examination of conscience that we do into worldly matters, we would certainly have nothing to fear from those, and things might indeed go far better for us as a society.

Trust God for the rest.

The Healing of a Boy with a Demon.

14 When they came to the crowd a man approached, knelt down before him,
15and said, “Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
17 Jesus said in reply, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me.”
18 Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured.
19 Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?”
20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

(Matthew 9, New American Bible)

Religion is more than just something to do on Sunday

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” –G.K. Chesterton


Football season is beginning. It always strikes me that people who are afraid to talk of “politics and religion” for fear of offending friends or relatives will get into absolute feuds over football. Meanwhile, they treat politics and religion the way they treat sports: a form of recreation; merely something to do on the weekends.
The other thing that football has in common with politics and religion is that people generally seem to choose their religious and political affiliations the way they pick their football teams: as a form of patriotism, or because of their families (either to show loyalty or spite their families), or because of their friends. Thus, just as they support the Steelers, or the Redskins, or the Browns, or the Panthers because of where they happen to live, people tend to simply accept (or reject) their family’s religion or political party without necessarily thinking of *why* they support it.
Thus, people will speak of “religion,” as a concept, in ways that can be quite baffling. On the one hand, you have people who insist that they’re Catholic, even though they reject the Church’s teachings from transubstantiation to the evil of contraception to the very Incarnation itself, because “it’s too hard to leave the Church,” like She is some kind of blood cult or something. They’re attached (rightly) to the nostalgia evoked by the liturgy (particularly the infamous Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter liturgies), and they attribute the devotion of other Catholics to a kind of extreme nostalgia (hence the “People who want the Traditional Latin Mass are just old people who don’t like change” argument).
On the other hand, you have people who say, “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” meaning that they’re not affiliated with a particular denomination or worship service. “Religion” has come to be defined according to the Masonic view as something subservient to “society” or “culture” (which is the main reason the 18th Century popes condemned the Masonic Lodges). The “church” or synagogue, temple or mosque is treated as something like a Lodge: a place to meet every week, have some fun, engage in organized charities, and host major life events like weddings and funerals. The Sacraments become similar “life events”–Baptism (or “Christening”) becomes a ceremony to recognize a birth, and so the same young parents who were offended at the notion in pre-Cana counseling that they should live as Catholics become offended at the notion they must promise to actually raise their children Catholic. They participate in First Communion and Confirmation (aka “graduation from CCD”) for the same reasons. It’s really very sad.
Thus, both the nominal Catholic and the “spiritual” non-Catholic are baffled by the notion that any religion should claim to be superior or to actually teach the Truth about Divine and Human Nature. Theology is seen as arbitrary and superstitious. Ironically, though, the claim that all religions are equal and that people should have “freedom of worship” means that “religion” should not be extended into “public life.” It’s just something to do for an hour a week, and not to actually effect one’s life beyond some base common denominator of being a “decent person” or a “good citizen.” Any religion that claims to do *more* that that is immediately suspect for violating the commonly accepted definition of “religion” that the Masons have taught us for nearly 300 years.
So the Left has fought for legalization of so-called “same sex marriage,” insisting they only want “equal rights,” and that no one should feel threatened by it. Christians warned that it would lead to persecution of those who didn’t want to participate. Others insisted and continue to insist that it was about “marriage equality” and that opponents were “homophobic.” Yet, now that the Supreme Court has essentially legalized it nationwide by throwing out the federal Defense of Marriage Act and the California Proposition 8, a court has ruled that Christian photographers cannot refuse to photograph gay weddings, a Christian bakery has closed due to “LGBT” threats and protests, a millionaire “gay” couple has sued a church in the UK for not performing their “wedding,” and Ugandan homosexuals have sued a Christian evangelist for “crimes against humanity.” Yet, like Nancy Pelosi’s infamous comment on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), “conservative” Catholic literary critic Joseph Bottum argues that we have to allow gay marriage to happen to see if it might do some good.
The LGBTQ lobby is powerful, as the UK case illustrates, precisely because it’s rich, but also because of “well meaning” Christians who think it’s about “fairness,” and others who don’t think that “religion” shouldn’t intrude on the “public sphere.” It’s the same reasoning behind the HHS contraception mandate: the alleged “right” to violate Natural Law supersedes the right of employers to chose not to engage in material cooperation. Indeed, the notion of “material cooperation” goes over most people’s heads or is used in the opposite of its intent.

The problem I have with Cardinal O’Malley: Ted Kennedy

There is a lot of buzz about Sean Cardinal O’Malley, OFM Cap, who is apparently a popular choice in European circles as the next pope. O’Malley has a lot of strong points: expertise with new media, “JPII bishop,” ecumenical background, international experience/multilingual, reputation as an authentic reformer in terms of the scandal. I’m not sure about his reputation among traditionalists, except that he did perform a Confirmation according to the extraordinary form a few years ago. However, when, now more than ever, we need a Holy Father to stand against the worldwide conspiracy against life, O’Malley is not that man.

It’s bad enough he engaged in the public funeral and insta-canonization of Ted Kennedy, he even defended it on his blog.

Now, let me be absolutely clear: whether Kennedy deserved a Catholic funeral is between him and his confessor. Whether Kennedy is forgiven for his sins is between him and God. However, there is a big difference between being a personal sinner and a public heretic. There is a big difference between private sin and public scandal. This is an age-old principle of Catholicism that has been all-but abandoned since Vatican II.

In the comments on O’Malley’s blog, we see a lot of references to forgiveness–often from people whose context otherwise indicates they don’t think Kennedy needed forgiveness. This is not about forgiveness but about teaching. I certainly hope God has forgiven Ted Kennedy, because that means I have a chance. That’s not my issue.

There’s a big difference between forgiving someone and “honoring his life.” There’s a big difference between giving a quiet, private Catholic funeral to someone who should have been publicly excommunicated and giving him a public funeral with a bully pulpit on what a great public Catholic he was.

Another common comment from Kennedy’s defenders is that we shouldn’t mix religion and politics. However, they’re just as quick to say that Kennedy’s “other political positions” show him to be a great Catholic.

Another defense of Kennedy is that supposedly abortion is one exception to being otherwise Catholic in his positions, and this is also untrue.

Let’s start with those “other issues” we so often hear about in Catholics defending their support for the Democratic Party. I’ve addressed these many times, of course, but apparently people just can’t comprehend the truth.

Does the Church give a “preferential option for the poor?” Yes. Does the Church emphasize the “common good”? Yes. But the Church also gives a wide range of options on how to apply those teachings, and emphasizes that Catholics must show a certain charity to one another where economics is concerned precisely because this is a matter of prudential judgement. However, when numerous Popes, from Leo XIII to John Paul II, have explicitly condemned socialism as such, and when Catholic teaching clearly emphasizes subsidiarity, I fail to see how anyone can seriously claim the Democratic positions are perfectly in line with Church teaching. Look at the list of ideologies Leo XIII condemned as “Americanism,” and you will see the positions that “Catholic Democrats” in America have held since the 19th Century. Explain to me how that’s “Catholic teaching.”

Then there’s abortion. To hear Kennedy’s defenders, including Cardinal O’Malley, reducing abortion to “just one issue,” Bernardin-style, makes me sick. It also goes against the teaching of John Paul II in _Evangelium Vitae_, who said that abortion should be the #1 priority of voting Catholics. That attitude expresses an inherently dismissive attitude to the pre-eminent moral crisis of our day, as does the notion that condemning abortion is “just about politics.”

But even so, even if somehow we can contort the Social Justice encyclicals to support the kind of Socialism the Kennedy family supported, and even if we can reduce abortion to one concern among many, Ted Kennedy had three other major black marks, as well.

Kennedy was very publicly divorced and remarried, for one, and thus it’s no wonder he once condemned St. Thomas More for being “intolerant.” When the public divorces of people like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry are brought up, liberals like to respond that annulments are supposedly a “private” process. Well, no, the whole point of an annulment process is to ensure that there’s no scandal in a remarriage, and if a Catholic is publicly divorced and remarried, that Catholic needs to publicly announce an annulment, as was done with numerous monarchs throughout history. Otherwise, it’s just “wink, wink, nudge, nudge,” sending the message to the public that Jesus Christ’s condemnation of divorce is an outmoded rule that can be ignored.

Speaking of Catholic teachings that are morally vital to society but largely ignored, Kennedy was personally responsible for ensuring that contraception remained legal in the US by single-handedly derailing the Bork Supreme Court nomination, and *precisely* on Bork’s position that _Griswold v. Connecticut_ was bad law.

Did Kennedy ever publicly repent of these public offenses against Church teaching? If not, he shouldn’t have been publicly honored as a “Catholic” public official.

Yet if people point out these basic principles of Catholic ethics, we’re labelled angry RadTrads, and ignored.

On top of that, as far as Cardinal O’Malley goes, there’s the issue of John Kerry. Ted Kennedy may be dead and buried, but O’Malley has failed in his duty of formally excommunicating John Kerry.

Who is Really “Marginalized” in the Church?

The resignation of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has led the media to engage in one of their favorite passtimes: berating the “controversial” teachings of the Catholic Church, and expressing hope that the Church will “listen to” allegedly “marginalized” Catholics who “have no voice” in the Church by changing controversial “policies” such as teaching the objective truths that male gender is a material requisite for the priesthood, or that abortion, contraception and homosexual behavior are intrinsically evil.

This idiotic article is just one more example of this claim. What struck me about this particular authress’s screed is that she talks of nuns who complain about being “marginalized,” and that really ticked me off.

It is a popular meme of liberal Catholics that Jesus “embraced those who were marginalized.” Like most lies, that’s partially true. However, Jesus also *called* on His followers to *become* marginalized. The fundamental difference between an orthodox and a liberal Christian is our *reaction* to marginalization. The orthodox believer recognizes that we must be marginalized by the world in order to live out the Evangelical Counsels, that marginalization is the path the holiness. The liberal believer sees marginalization as a bad thing, and fights against it.

But whatever they want to say about the “official” teachings of the Church, these people have been running things for quite some time.

I have been “marginalized” by liberal Catholics my entire life.

Every liturgical document from Sacrosanctum Concilium to Liturgiam Authenicam to Redemptionis Sacramentum to Summorum Pontificum has emphasized the importance of Latin as the official liturgical language of the Roman Rite. When B16 called the world synod of bishops shortly after his accession, they voted by a huge majority to promote the use of Latin and to mandate that multilingual congregations offer Mass in Latin as opposed to the vernacular. The documents all say Mass should be primarily in Latin. Where Vatican II gives options, the preference is supposed to be on the more “traditional” option. And as B16 noted in Summorum Pontificum, the Tridentine liturgy was never “suppressed,” so it never should have required an “indult.” Strange that Vatican II options which were *supposed* to require indults–reception in the hand, use of lay ministers of communion–have become commonplace and are considered almost obligatory, yet there has been every effort made to suppress the Traditional Latin Mass. Who is voiceless and marginalized?

I have never heard homilies in favor of Latin or of traditional liturgical practices at “ordinary” Ordinary Form liturgies. I have heard such homilies frequently at extraordinary form masses, or ordinary form Masses in Latin, or Eastern liturgies–situations where the priests were literally “preaching to the choir.” I have never heard an “ordinary” priest give a homily at a vernacular Mass trying to explain why traditional liturgical forms are good. I *have*, however, heard priests preach from the altar that they wished traditionalists would all die off and stop bugging everyone. I have heard priests say from the altar that they “hope this pope will die so we can get a new pope who will get rid of all the rules” (this back in the days of John Paul II). I have heard priests say from the pulpit or other public venues that Latin is to be discouraged because it scares people away and people don’t understand it. I have heard priests preach about how wonderful all the changes “Vatican II made” supposedly are, even though many of the things they’re talking about were never mentioned by Vatican II and actually defy the explicit teachings of the Council.

Speaking of which, I’ve heard and read the claim that the Society of St. Pius X is “heretical” or schismatic because one must accept all the teachings of the Council to be Catholic, even though Pope Paul VI said otherwise and Pope Benedict has frequently critiqued certain aspects of the Council. Yet if that is the case, then why is there no action taken against liberal Catholics who openly defy express teachings of the Council, such as S.C.’s order that the Church provide classes in Latin to all laity?

Then there are the moral issues? Who’s really marginalized when Catholics with “large families” are mocked by their fellow Catholics, openly, and even at or after Mass? When I got engaged, and asked my pastor about NFP classes, he scoffed, and said, “I only know 2 families in the parish who are into that stuff. It’s not that important. You can just use birth control; it’s OK. If you really want to, I can give you the numbers of those couples, because I wouldn’t know anything about it.” At the same meeting, he told me he helped *design* his diocese’s Engaged Encounter Program, yet he claimed to know nothing about NFP! (Thankfully, a lot has changed since then, and many diocese in the SE are using Family Honor, but I’m not sure if it’s part of the official pre-Cana process yet). I was grateful he told me we could do it in any diocese we wanted, since we were a long-distance engagement, so long as we provided the parish with a certificate. So we did our Engaged Encounter with the Diocese of Arlington, where about 1/3 was Theology of the Body and about 1/3 was NFP.

My wife once went to a lecture by the diocesan interfaith coordinator, shortly after the publication of _Dominus Iesus_, in which this priest insisted that then Cardinal Ratzinger was trying to “tie the hands of John Paul’s successor”! What a surprise for him that Cardinal Ratzinger *was* John Paul’s successor.

I have rarely been able to attend any parish meeting, adult class or spirituality group, or whatever, without grinding my teeth in frustration at the heterodoxy and dissent that are openly discussed, sometimes by people who have been educated in heterodoxy for so long that they don’t even know they’re material heretics! They *think* that traditionalists are the heretics who “don’t follow Vatican II,” and yet, if they actually took the time to read Vatican II, and compare the teachings of “both sides,” most Catholics would be shocked to discover that the Society of St. Pius X is far more in line with what Vatican *actually* teaches than what the habitless nuns and cassockless priests have told them for decades about the “spirit of Vatican II.”

This is why, when I read articles such as the one in the _Detroit News_, I get infuriated. And I get infuriated that, when traditional and conservative Catholics *express* their frustration at such articles, people say, “See?! That just proves traditionalists are vindictive and hateful!” During the Mother Angelica-Cardinal Mahony feud, Bishop Thomas Tobin, then of Mother’s hometown Youngstown, OH, wrote a fantastic piece (which I can’t find, so I have to link this article about it) in which he tried to play diplomat, but he observed that perhaps there is some justification in the anger of conservative Catholics who have been routinely shouted down and mocked since the Council.

Liberals run the religious ed programs and schools. They run the liturgy committees. They run most of the seminaries and diocesan vocation programs and–as many ex or would be seminary candidates, along with a few brave vocations directors and bishops have attested to–they specifically reject candidates they deem “too conservative” while promoting candidates who are at least friendly to liberals. Then they beat them down in the seminary with liberal indoctrination. And the religious houses have done the same thing, dwindling their numbers as they come to look like gay and lesbian communes, while the more orthodox communities are thriving. Yet as they get grayer and grayer, the “progressives” continue to insist they speak for “young Catholics.”

Where? Where are these “young Catholics” they claim to speak for? Why aren’t these “young Catholics” flocking to join liberal convents and liberal monasteries? If there are all these women who are supposedly “called the priesthood,” why aren’t they joining the LCWR affiliated convents in droves while they await their “dream pope” who will do all this for them?

And why is there no connection made to the fact that the Cardinal who *most* supported their “progressive” agenda has been completely disgraced as perhaps the worst offender when it came to covering up for sex-abuser priests–so much that other bishops knew he was the easy go-to man for re-assigning sex offenders to his diocese? Why is no one acknowledging that it was precisely Roger Mahony’s “liberal” attitudes towards homosexuality and sex that led him to support these priests?

But, no, liberals have no voice in the Church at all. Bloody hypocrites.

What Economic System Does Catholicism Promote?

Short answer: None.

The ongoing debate among Catholics in America, highlighted by the two Catholic candidates for Vice President, is whether Catholics should support “capitalism” or “socialism.” There is a long-held misconception among many Catholics that the Church supports “socialism”, and proponents of this view cite Leo XIII’s groundbreaking encyclical, Rerum Novarum. However, Leo XIII explicitly condemns socialism, a direct condemnation repeated over and over by the Popes.
From Rerum Novarum, Paragraph 15:

Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal. The first and most fundamental principle, therefore, if one would undertake to alleviate the condition of the masses, must be the inviolability of private property. This being established, we proceed to show where the remedy sought for must be found

Indeed, paragraph 676 of _The Catechism of the Catholic Church_ identifies the Antichrist with any ideology which proposes to solve all humanity’s problems, and the context of the document quoted therein is an explicit statement that Communism is the AntiChrist.

The fact that Rerum Novarum elevates the dignity of the worker, and promotes labor unions, seemed to many to promote “socialism,” just as Bl. John XXIII’s declaration in _Mater et Magistra_ that the right to property is limited also seemed to many on the poltical Left and Right to be an endorsement of socialism.
Often, in political dialogue, several concepts get lumped together as “capitalism” and several others as “socialism,” when there are really several separate approaches:

Let me propose, as I suggested metaphorically the other day, that we use the following categories
1) Capitalism: an economy driven by stock ownership, by the notion that money necessarily reproduces itself
2) Free Market: the notion of letting people compete freely in the economic market
3) Liberalism or “Social Justice”: Taxing the upper portion of the population to support the lower portion, since experience has proven that the upper portion are not going to do it voluntarily.
4) Socialism: The government owning some or all aspects of the economy and providing those services for “free.”

Now, Distributism is the Church’s “third way.” The primary considerations of distributism are:

1) The fundamental right to property
2) The *limitation* of the fundamental right to property (Mater et Magistra), in that property reaches a point where it damages the individual (“Blessed are the Poor in Spiirt” and all that).
3) The “common good” or “solidarity”–the need of people to work together.
4) Subsidiarity–the principle that society exists for the protection of the family, and power should be as localized as possible to avoid the corruption that entails with higher power.
5) The inherent dignity of work.
6) The right of workers to own their own labors.

The major social justice encyclicals are Leo XIII’s _Rerum Novarum_, Pius XI’s _Quadragesimo Anno_, John XXIII’s _Mater et Magistra_, Paul VI’s _Populorum Progresso_, Bl John Paul II’s _Laborem Exercens_, JPII’s _ Sollicitudo Rei Socialis_, JPII’s Centesimus Annus, and Benedict XVI’s _Caritas in Veritatae_.

These encyclicals cover a *lot* of topics, so the Church released a _Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine_.

Anyone interested in these issues ought to at least read the Compendium.

Because of the nuanced way the Popes address these issues, and because of the insistence of society on “polarizing” all issues, people understandably get confused. Plus, there is the question of how times have changed: often because what the Popes called for early on has been implemented, and there are now new problems (that’s why so many of the encyclicals are written precisely to commemorate anniversaries of their predecessors).

One example of this is “employee stock plans.” As a way of promoting the dignity of work and the rights of workers to own their labor, one of the Popes (I think it was Pius XI) proposed the notion of corporations sharing their stocks with employees. Stock sharing plans were originally condemned by many on the “Right” as a “socialist” notion, yet today they’ve become an ordinary part of business. Back in the late 1990s, Francis Cardinal George famously gave an address to a conference sponsored by _Commonweal_ where he said that liberal Catholicism is essentially obsolete: not that it’s bad, but it’s served its purpose. Both within the Church and in terms of the Church’s action in the world, what was considered “liberal Catholicism” 100 years ago has both done its job and sufficiently filtered through the Church at most levels, and to continue insisting on “liberalization” of the Church is to go beyond what was originally intended.

And while it seems so because of the television networks and the internet, “Polarization” is nothing new: I often use the example of St. John Bosco. The Socialists hated Don Bosco because he was teaching his boys religoin and pacifism. The Aristocrats hated Don Bosco because they thought he was in league with the Socialists by giving the poor food and shelter and education (this also shows why “liberal Catholicism” or “Catholic liberalism” was necessary at the time: even in Catholic countries, Catholic Aristocrats did not recognize their obligation to support the poor).

So, the Church gives us various principles to apply and consider. However, She gives great freedom in *how* we consider them. The Social Justice Encyclicals all emphasize that so long as Catholics are seriously trying to apply these principles, we have to apply then in context of our societies. This is important, because we may often disagree with how our Catholic brethren apply these teachings, but if they’re citing the principles, we have to presume their goodwill in trying to follow the Church’s teachings.

This is why some people speak of “non-negotiables”. Abortion, for example, is black-and-white. The Church says abortion is wrong in every and all circumstances, and governments are obligated to make it illegal. However, there are other areas like “social teaching” or Just War Theory where the Church gives principles and leaves it up to governments to apply them. So it’s important to recognize what the Church says in these matters. However, many Catholics try to argue that since issues like economics and war have room for interpretation, teachings on issues like abortion should also have room for interpretation.

Now, part of “room for interpretation” is the recognition of the particular issues facing particular countries, as well as the existing political and economic structures of those countries. Sometimes, the Vatican will address a problem with concern about what’s going on one place and it gets misapplied to other countries. For example, Pius XII and Leo XIII gave various documents and speeches where they condemned Socialism/Communism, and they were clearly addressing countries where Socialis or Communist revolutions were happening. In condemning secular regimes which sought to sever Church and State and free the State from the Church, they condemned “religious liberty.” Some have taken this as a condemnation of the “religious liberty” practiced in the US, but both those Popes also praised the kind of liberty promoted in the US (so long as the government recognizes it must listen to the Church on matters of Natural Law).

Well, the Church assigned national episcopal councils with the task of determining how best to apply Catholic Social Teachings in their countries. That’s why the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will occasionally issue a document like _Faithful Citizenship_ from a few years ago.

In the US, however, we have a problem that our episocopal conference is tied to a vast bureaucracy. The major pre-Vatican II Catholic organizations, such as the Legion of Decency (which used to practically control Hollywood but is now the milquetoast USCCB “Film Office”), into one bureaucracy in DC called the “United States Catholic Conference,” and the bishops were, collectively, the “board of directors” of that organization. Then there was the “National Conference of Catholic Bishops,” which met annually to decide on the application of Church teachings and liturgical norms to America. Since the NCCB was technically the Board of Directors of the USCCB, they finally merged into the USCCB, so now the lay employees of what used to be USCC (some of whom aren’t even Catholic) can issue documents that now seem to have the authority of “The Bishops.”

So just as the public and the media do not understand the difference between some priest at the Vatican issuing a statement, the Vatican newspaper writing an article, a Vatican Congregation issuing a document or the Pope issuing a document, so too any statement that comes from “The USCCB” is treated as having the authority of an entire vote by the Bishops. And even if the Bishops collectively vote on something, it still has little technical authority because each bishop is sovereign in his diocese, and any individual bishop has the right to opt out of a USCCB “decision.”

So something comes up like the “USCCB condemns the Ryan Budget,” and that becomes “common knowledge,” even if the USCCB never technically said it. In terms of the Paul Ryan debate, I have not researched deeply enough to know where the alleged “USCCB condemnation” comes from but it is clear that Ryan considers Catholic Social Teaching in his thought, and Ryan himself has made the argument that the “common good” cannot be served by a bankrupted government.

Throughout the world, socialist governments are going bankrupt. The states with the worst economic crises right now in the US–California, PA, etc.–are the most socialist. The “democratic socialist” governments of Europe are collapsing just as the Leninist governments did 20 years ago. Yet, somehow, people keep insisting socialism works, that socialism is the answer to the world’s economic problems, etc.

Meanwhile, though the Church has critiqued certain aspects of capitalism, none of the Popes have condemned capitalism. Rather, because capitalism promotes the right to property, the Popes have said time and again that capitalism is the best context for building a society more based upon CST. Refer back to the example of stock sharing plans.

Subsidiarity says that ownership should be de-centralized. The late conservative philosopher Russell Kirk argued that capitalism and socialism are “two sides of the same coin” because both promote centralization. Neither laissez-faire capitalism nor socialism is in accord with the principle of subsidiarity because one gives the majority of power to the rich, and the other gives the majority of power to the government. Distributism is about distributing the power to produce wealth evenly among the people.

Solidarity is about the common good, but the common good is not served by socialism any more than laissez-faire capitalism. However, as conservative Christians often argue, in a society that promotes economic freedom, individuals have the freedom to use their money for good (though, again, a baseline safety net is necessary because history has shown individuals will not do that). That is what “social justice” means–moderating the injustices of society using the government.

We cannot have a truly “free market” without some level of government regulation. A market dominated by monopolies is no more free than a market dominated by the government.

The Popes promote a notion of “living wage,” which has filtered through society but become corrupted as many such notions tend to be. So people hear “living wage” and think “socialism,” but living wage means paying each employee what he or she is worth given human dignity. It is a principle that goes back to at least Aristotle. In Catholic teaching, “living wage” also refers to considering a person’s family size and obligations so that each individual has enough money to support those he or she needs to. This is not the same as a “minimum wage,” which insists on a baseline pay for all workers, at the same rate. The problem witha “minimum wage” is it encourages inflation. “Living wage” both recognizes the true value of all individuals while avoiding the notion of overpaying someone.

The CST encyclicals are also consistent in noting the limitation of wealth. No individual should have too much wealth or economic power. We can debate about how much is too much or how to regulate it, but the Popes give multiple explanations of why it is wrong for any individual to have too much wealth, yet many Americans, including by a Protestant and Masonic worldview rather than a Catholic one, would insist that this is “unChristian.” People have a blind eye to Luke 12 and Matthew 5, and the numerous other places where Jesus condemns wealth as such (camel and the eye of a needle and all that).

However, whatever the Church’s critique of capitalism, none of the proposals in the CST encyclicals amount to or endorse Socialism: socialism takes away the dignity of the worker. Ask any government employee if he or she has ownership in his or her work, and you’ll have your answer on that one.

Distributism is about giving each family just enough means to produce a living, and then letting them be free to do so. It’s about limiting the capacity of any one agent in society to make too much money–Chesterton proposes this be done by guilds or unions: i.e., a particular profession’s guild determines the just wage for that profession and apportions the zones for each member to work without competing with others). We are so addicted to the drug of “progress,” however, that we don’t want to accept an economic system that promotes subsistence rather than “prosperity.”

We’re so worried about “debt,” an artificial construct based upon “funny money,” espeically in our modern age, that we refuse to accept the notion of letting people start from scratch. Once again, however, forgiveness of debt is a recurrent theme in both the Old and New Testaments and in papal teaching: in the Old Testament, God *requires* forgiveness of all debt every 7 years, and Scott Hahn argues that the fact Israel ignored this Commandment was a major reason for the Babylonian Exile (which lasted for as many years as the Sabbath years the Israelites failed to obey).

Chesterton famously said that Christianity has not been tried and found wanting but found difficult and not tried. The same is true of Distributism and Catholic Social Teaching: if we *really* followed what Jesus teaches in the Gospel–and CST is really nothing more than an expansion of Matthew 5 and Luke 12 to modern issues–it would be difficult. It would require breaking down our entire way of looking at economics and society, and reforming from the ground up. This is why many Catholics argue capitalism and a libertarian approach, for now, is best, because of the “accepted” models, it’s the only way to work our way up from the bottom. At least those systems, as the Popes have acknowledged, respect the fundamental right to property, which socialism does not.

So I never get the notion, common among Catholics, that the Church’s preference is for socialism, and the alliance with Capitalism is just an alliance of convenience.

Why I am a conservative: The Fine Arts and the LCWR

There are two reasons I am a conservative.

The first reason is abortion.

The second reason might seem more trivial but is just as important and perhaps moreso: Beauty.

Both reasons tie to the fact that what I rejected were liberal or progressive Catholics.

For Russell Kirk, conservatism is primarily about what he, following T. S. Eliot, calls the “Permanent Things,” or what Mortimer Adler would call “The Great Ideas.” In 1986, Kirk added a chapter to his magnum opus _The Conservative Mind_, officially about T. S. Eliot but also dealing with Robert Frost, talking about how it is impossible to have a truly liberal poet (he notes Shelley as a possible exception) because poets are all about the Permanent Things. C. S. Lewis, in his inaugural address as chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge, _De Descriptione Temporum_, says that there are only three true historical periods. Today, we might call these the pre-Christian, Christian and post-Christian eras. Lewis argues that only 2 true changes ever occurred in history: the arrival of Christ, and the arrival of Modernity. He suggests that he sees Western Civilization as a continuum, with the Greeks at one end and Jane Austen at the other. While he thinks that the West has tapered off, he sees Jane Austen as the last solid example of a “Truly Western writer.”

Indeed, one of the reasons I went into English was to write a thesis on Lewis’s fascination with Jane Austen, though my thesis got redirected by my committee. We can further compare Lewis’s analysis of Western culture to G. K. Chesterton, who said that Western civilization is a back-and-forth of the Greco-Roman view (i.e., Renaissance, Neo-Classical) with the Judeo-Christian view (i.e., Medieval, Baroque, Romantic/Gothic). With the rise of artistic and intellectual modernism in the late 19th Century, something new happened. The Greeks and Romans saw the world as essentially divinely-given mathematical order. The Judeo-Christian view saw the world as a miserable place infused with divine beauty from which we reach out for God.

Modernism was the first widely accepted worldview, and the first artistic movement, based upon rejection of a notion of God. As one of the music critics in the old print _Crisis Magazine_ once put it, “Music died with Nietzsche’s God.”

One of the only times I had the opportunity to teach literature, as opposed to writing, was in the 2007-2008 academic year. I avoided being overt about revealing my political or religious views, but I *did* talk about these figures and guide my teaching of literature according to explaining the back and forth of those trends in culture. This led at least one of my students to raise her hand and ask if she was correct in guessing that I supported Mike Huckabee in that year’s primary (I did).

While I read most of Lewis’s work when I was 13 and 14, I didn’t read Kirk or Chesterton till college, though _The Conservative Mind_ was one of those books that, when I read it, I put it down and said, “THIS is what I believe”!

But I was conservative before I read any of them. I wasn’t conservative from my upbringing, other than the fact that my parents were staunchly pro-life. My parents started off as “Reagan Democrats.” My father was union activist in Pennsylvania, and I despise labor unions as institutions. I was born in Erie, PA, the hometown of “Sr.” Joan Chittister and PAX Christi USA. The bishop of Erie, when I was a child, was Michael Murphy, who infamously wanted to tear out seats in St. Peter’s Cathedral to make room for a stage for liturgical dance. His successor, Donald Trautman, is known for his courageous stance against pro-choice Catholic politicians . . . named Republican Tom Ridge.

Trautman is also known for spearheading liberalism in both liturgy and Scripture. He headed the committees that created the atrocious, and Vatican-Rejected, “revised Psalms” of the NAB. He has headed the USCCB’s liturgy committee numerous times, even beyond conventional term limits. Over a decade ago, he wrote a piece on liturgy in _America_ that elicited a response from some Vatican bishops, who wrote in the letters page of _America_ that Trautman’s article was essentially calling for a schism. Trautman single-handedly stonewalled implementation of the New Translation in the US, starting with his immediate reaction to, and rejection of, _Liturgiam Authenticam_ when it was issued and his insistence over the last 10 years that Americans are too dumb to know what words like “chalice” and “consubstantial” mean.

Somehow, in spite of that wide Catholic environment, in my early childhood I managed to pick up the beauty of Catholicism that Murphy and Trautman’s generations tried to strip away so meticulously, part in thanks to my parents’ guidance (though many others from similar backgrounds wouldn’t have gotten the same result). I was as bored at Mass as many children are, and clueless about what was going on or what the Readings or homilies said. I was awed by the stained glass windows, statues, the gothic architecture, the pipe organ, the choir, and the vestments and processions.

I read my Fr. Daniel Lord _Miniature Lives of the Saints_ I got for First Communion and was impressed by the piety of the saints. I read my “Children’s First Mass Books” I got for First Communion and was moved by the beauty of the prayers in it.

It was Beauty that called to me in the liturgy and in popular devotions before I understood anything.

I thought it was so cool that monks and nuns got to stand out by wearing their habits to show their love for Jesus.

Then we moved to the South, and while the South tends to be “conservative,” generally, and maybe southern Catholics are more actively pro-life, southern Catholics, especially the ones who are not transplants, tend to be rather liberal about their faith, because of the whole, “We have to avoid getting persecuted” mentality. When they’re conservative, they tend to be the racist kind of conservatives. So I spent the second half of my formative years surrounded by charismatics and progressives, and carrying the stigma that conservative=racist, and the only people who seemed to be externally following the Church’s teachings generally seemed to be stuck-up.

Yet, in spite of all that, I was drawn to Tradition.

I had plainclothes nuns and priests telling me that everything I found attractive about Catholicism was done away with by Vatican II.

While what drew me to the faith was its *difference* from the world, I was told that to be “relevant” and “attract the youth,” the Church had to embrace the world’s “pop culture,” that organs and traditional hymns had to be set aside for guitars and folksongs (nevermind that I had not yet really understood the great patrimony of traditional Catholic music; I was just working from congregational hymns). Stained glass windows (at least those depicting saints and biblical events) and statues had to be stripped away for colorful banners and potted plants. We’d have a big day for “Thanksgiving,” when Protestant Orange would be draped over the sacred altar and the vestments of the priest.

It made no sense to me that the religion of Aloysius Gonzaga, who walked on his own to daily Mass at age 3, or Stanislas Kostka who miraculously received Communion from an angel, was to be replaced by balloon Masses and “Glory and Praise for Kids,” that the faith which so many martyrs died for *PRECISELY* because they didn’t want to participate in the evils of their own cultures was now to be spread by embracing the evils of our contemporary culture.

John Paul II coined the term “Culture of Death” in _Evangelium Vitae_. Yes, the term has been used and abused since, and become a cliche, but if you actually read the encyclical, the context of the term might make even the most avid Ron Paul supporter blush (especially those who think the Pope is *in* on “the New World Order”), for His Holiness speaks of a vast worldwide conspiracy against Life and against the Catholic Church. If we’re going to speak of a “Culture of Death,” then we have to acknowledge that concept includes “culture,” that the Culture of Postmodernism is itself part-and-parcel of the Culture of Death. The culture of contraception, abortion, and euthanasia is also the culture of sex, drugs and Rock&Roll. If a worldwide conspiracy against the Catholic Church is trying to promote abortion, contraception, divorce and so many other evils, then one must also acknowledge that such a conspiracy is involved with the government pays for crucifixes in urine or feces on images of the Blessed Mother. If we’re fighting against these evils attacking human life and the family, then we must also attack the culture which encourages people to participate in immorality, so they feel the “need” for abortion, contraception and divorce as “protection” against their own immorality that the culture has taught them is inevitable.

Those same nuns were all about “helping the poor”–which is laudable, but not when it’s politically subordinated to abortion (a position refuted by Bl. John Paul II in _Evangelium Vitae_) or worse when it’s subordinated to spirituality. In that sense, it was not so much abortion that made me conservative as “Catholicism is about serving the poor, not all that prayer stuff. You shouldn’t be doing Eucharistic Adoration. The Eucharist is supposed to be about going out and serving the poor, not staying around and worshipping it. Marian devotion was done away with by Vatican II, and it’s not what you’re supposed to be doing. You’re supposed to be serving the poor.” And to a disabled kid, whose parents were basically teetering on poverty as it was, being told that the only “true” way to serve Christ was by helping the poor, came off as essentially telling me I was damned (if their worldview was true), and it seemed hypocritical of them to be so worried about poor people who *weren’t* Catholic but not about those in their own parish, to go out and do habitat for humanity but not be bothered to help a parishioner who was likely going to die before age 20.

So *that* is why I’m a conservative. Now, as an adult, I’ve seen the faults of many who call themselves conservative, but take solace in that most of them are more neocons, anyway, but the fundamental issues still remain.

Now, I knew my understanding of Catholicism was validated by JPII, sort of, and I knew it was validated by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (which is why I spent most of my life till 2005 waiting for him to be Pope, and literally hit the ceiling when he did), and by Cardinal Arinze, and Mother Angelica, and so many saints. I knew my view of Catholicism was validated by Kirk, and Chesterton, and Dietrich von Hildebrand, etc.

However, the struggle against the habitless nuns and their cronies has raged on. It is amazing how there are so many people out there who consider themselves devout and practicing Catholics, whose worldviews are so completely different, who totally embrace “Vatican II” (or rather the “Spirit of Vatican II,” since the Council itself never said or advocated most of what they claim it did), who think that Joan Chittister and Rembert Weakland (even in spite of the latter’s disgrace) embody the “true” faith, it can be quite disheartening. Look at _Commonweal_, _America_, _US Catholic_, _St. Anthony Messenger_, or _Maryknoll_. Look at the “we’re not liberal” Catholics at Vox Nova and “Catholics United for the Common Good.” Look at so many “Catholic” colleges and institutions, like Georgetown, which invited Kathleen Sebelius to be its commencement speaker, even in the current crisis. While many of these people are intentional agents of Communism and Freemasonry, many of them really *are* well-meaning, but totally brainwashed, and think they’re following the Church. And they insist that their “view of Catholicism” is at least a perfectly valid one, if not the only valid one, and the Pope and “the Bishops” (even though many of the bishops in the US agree with them) are “out of touch.”

So, with all that said, the second great gratification came seven years after the installation of Pope Benedict XVI, when the Vatican issued its “smackdown” of the Leadership Council of Women Religious a few weeks ago. Finally, the Vatican has confirmed that all those habitless nuns are way off-base, regarding their subordination of both moral issues and personal spirituality to social justice (which is a perfectly valid concern in its proper context). Finally, they’re being told to put their habits back on.

How “Arrest Bush” People Promote a Catholic State

I think everyone in our culture, if they know anything about Catholicism, know that the Catholic Church used to have an Inquisition. Now, much like Bishop Sheen’s statement about people hating not the Catholic Church but what they *think* that Catholic Church is, those people often think they know what the Inquisition was but know little about it.
First, there were technically two sets of entities known as the “Inquisition.” On the one hand, there was/is the entity that worked within the Church to enforce orthodoxy and investigate heresy and other issues. It still exists, though some of its methods and organizations have changed with its name. Its name was later changed to the Holy Office, and it is now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
The other side or form of the “Inquisition” was the internal agencies of local countries where Catholicism was the state religion, which enforced violations of Catholic teaching as criminal offenses. Sometimes, quite rarely, that meant “witchcraft” or “heresy,” but it also included moral offenses. The different state Inquisitions would use different methods, and the exact methods of the Inquisition would vary with different officials like any organization. Sometimes, it used torture. In some cases, it was actually closer to modern notions of justice than the criminal and civil courts of those times.

Sometimes, it would be over-zealous.

When Joan of Arc was sentenced to death by the Inquisition, her trial was overseen by substitute officials because the Grand Inquisitor was in Rome during the whole affair, and as soon as he came back, he reviewed the trial and found it to be unjust, though it took another 50 years to fully reverse the verdict and 500 years for Joan to be canonized.

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who united Spain after centuries of wars between Christians and Muslims, instituted the Spanish Inquisition, which was notoriously harsh and overzealous in trying to keep the Muslims from retaking the country, and trying to keep Protestantism from overtaking Spain as it had so many countries in Northern Europe. The Spanish Inquisition was overzealous to the point that Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, two of the greatest saints of all time and both later deemed Doctors of the Church, lived in fear of the Inquisition, and at least one of Teresa’s books was “lost in the shuffle” as the Inquisition investigated it.

Yet in spite of these offenses that everyone knows about, the Inquisition did a lot of good. Back in those days, there were priests who committed sexual abuse (Holy Mother Teresa writes about one in her _Life_), but the Inquisition punished them. In World War II, the Holy Office used its network to assist Allied spies and as an “underground railroad” to help Jews and Allied POWs escape the Nazis.

The abuses had more to do with the local state-affiliated Inquisitions than the overall Inquisition of the Church, which is why the Church changed the name and reorganized it. On the other hand, a lot of what is “commonly known” comes from anti-Catholic propaganda and is actually historically inaccurate.

Thus, I find it ironic that, on the one hand, the Church is criticized for having the Inquisition. On the other hand, the *contemporary* Church is often criticized for things that the Inquisition used to handle. The extensive problem of sexual abuse by priests in this century could be blamed, in part, on the absence of an Inquisition. The insistence of bishops on emphasizing reform and forgiveness in dealing with sexual abuser priests was due, in part, to a mentality of “We don’t want to be like the Inquisition.” If the Inquisition was still active, and was a government agency, there would have been a clear avenue for punishing priests who engaged in sexual abuse or embezzlement or other offenses. But since the US insists on separation of Church and State, and the Church says, “fine; we’re separate, so stay out of our business,” the problem arose that we are all aware of.

Dr. Charles Rice points out that people are opposed to the notion of Natural Law until it’s convenient. Suddenly, at the Nuremberg Trials, people were talking about Natural Law. Then it was moral relativism all over again. People will tell me that they don’t believe in Natural Law, then say that BP needs to be punished for the oil leak in the Gulf–a form of Natural Law.

Earlier, I posted about uncivil political rhetoric and noted that I believe Barack Obama should be impeached and prosecuted for a number of things, including war crimes, violations of the Constitution and defrauding the people.

I figured an automatic reply from some would be, “Prosecute Bush,” and in one sense, I agree. Anticipating that response inspired *this* post.

Morally, Bush is responsible for a lot of offenses. I don’t think he’s responsible for everything that the Left claims. The assertions of WMDs in Iraq, for example, were made under the Clinton Administration, and again, proving a negative is impossible. We’ll probably never know for certain whether the WMDs were there or not. There are Iraq veterans who claim they found WMDs but the media didn’t report it. There are various conspiracy theories about the WMDs being sent off to other countries before the invasion. Who knows? I think that Bush was sincere, though, in acting on the intelligence he was given. I suspect something like what happens in the movie _Wag the Dog_, however.

I still think Bush also did a lot to violate the Constitution, and to violate human rights, but he did it with the support of Congress, and there is nothing in US law that would directly impeach him. Even if the Supreme Court were to rule the Patriot Act, or NCLB, unconstitutional (it already ruled McCain-Feingold unconstitutional), that still wouldn’t be grounds for prosecution. You can’t prosecute someone for passing a law that’s later overturned.

Of course, the Left would argue that he should be arrested by some UN agency, but of course that’s not an option I would support. The UN goes against everything I believe in, starting with the principle of subsidiarity, and including the fact that it’s basically a Masonic entity.

To this, I note how many Papal documents, such as Caritas et Veritate, that seem to support the UN are actually undermining it. When the Vatican says something like, “There needs to be a global entity overseeing the morality of the banking industry,” the Church is saying, “Wink, wink, nudge, nudge”; “There needs to be an entity to oversee global morality. By the way, we’re a global entity that God established to oversee morality.” It’s saying basically that the Church should be running the UN.

That gets us back to the Inquisition. Just as a modern day Inquisition would have stopped the sex abuse crisis in its tracks, so too would it give us something to do with Bush.

Obama is clearly guilty of constitutional crimes. Bush is guilty of grave moral offenses, many of which he shares with Obama, but he did them all with the protection of the institutions we have in this country. We don’t have an entity that punishes violations of Natural Law that are not also part of the criminal code. That’s what an Inquisition is for.

So, that’s how the Occupy Wall Street Left, which would reflexively say “Inquisition” as a response to any pro-Catholic statement, is actually arguing *for* an Inquisition.

Why This Paleocon Solidly Supports Rick Santorum

Let me start this very clearly: anyone reading this blog should realize I’m a solid paleoconservative, and I’ve been very critical of both neoconservatism as a philosophy and Rick Santorum insofar as he exemplifies it. That said, with all things put together, I have decided that Santorum is not only the best candidate among the standing Republicans but the only possible candidate to face the crisis our country is in.

Will he win? Well, polls are indicating he’s the only Republican who has a chance of beating Obama, and it’s really a question of whether he has a chance of beating Romney. At this point, since I’ve argued for years that a repeat of 1860 is the only way to end abortion, I’m counting on the GOP to split at the convention the way the Democrats did in 1860. In a three way race between Obama, Romney and Santorum (or Paul, but he hasn’t got a shot at this point), I’m sure Santorum would be the spoiler the way Lincoln was in 1860, because Santorum appeals to the same voters Lincoln did, and they’re still roughly the same percentage of the population.

A. Constistently Pro-Life?

Again, I disagree strongly with some of Santorum’s foreign policy positions. I agree with those who say that his positions on “enhanced interrogation,” assassination of civilians, and foreign interventionism belie his pro-life convictions and do not reflect a consistent pro-life philosophy. However, I always recognize, with the Church, that there is a hierarchy to pro-life issues.

1. Abortion and contraception are absolutes. I’ve always argued that given the choice between two anti-abortion candidates, the next issue to consider is contraception, and Santorum is better than the other candidates on that. Indeed, my otherwise favorite Ron Paul and his non-Catholic supporters have specifically criticized Santorum’s position on contraception. This was why, literally at the last minute, I decided to vote for Rick in the SC primary.

2. War is not an absolute, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in his infamous “secret letter” to Cardinal McCarrick. Since the state has the right to wage war when necessary, and since the judgement of whether a war is just or unjust is prudential, even though I disagree with Santorum’s positions on war-related issues, he seems to be exercising his prudential judgement and taking Church teaching, as he understands it, into consideration.

3. Santorum has shown himself willing to adjust his own beliefs to the Church’s teachings, more than any other politician I’ve seen. Since being voted out of office, from what I’ve heard from him on EWTN, he seems to have repented of his support of Specter, for example. If any politician is willing to change to be more in accord with the Church, he’s it. So I pray he’ll alter his foreign policy views as time goes on.

4. While I disagree with his views, again, I think he’s sincere in them. I’ve always pointed to Pat Buchanan as the ideal Catholic paleocon and the late Bob Casey, Sr., as the ideal Catholic liberal–both argue sincerely from their Catholic principles to their political conclusions. I happen to agree more with Buchanan, but respect Casey’s reasoning. I say the same thing about Santorum: I respect his reasoning, even though I disagree with some of his conclusions and his view on the function of government.

B. Paleocon versus Neocon view of Government

As a paleocon, I’d prefer small-government solutions to problems. I’d rather we outlaw abortion the Ron Paul way than by passing yet another federal law.

However, I have to recognize the signs of the times. If Ron Paul had done better so far, it would be one thing, but he’s hardly gotten any votes at all. Paleoconservatism is a dying position. In Canada, neither dominant coalition is officially pro-life anymore, and the “Religious Right” is suffering as a minority. That will happen in the US if Romney gets the GOP nomination. Rush Limbaugh said last year how the GOP leadership wants to the Christians to shut up about abortion. For the most part, paleocons and neocons agree about issues; we just disagree about the best way to tackle them. Even though I disagree with Santorum about *how* to tackle them, I also acknowledge that, at this point, his methods may be the only way to win on certain issues. Having seen Buchanan, Dornan, Keyes and now Paul get rejected time and again, I have to admit that paleoconservatism is a losing viewpoint, and if we don’t find a way of working with the neocons, we face the fate of not just paleocons but all pro-lifers in Canada.

C. Catholicism

Right before I went to the polls in the South Carolina primary, I went across the border to a pro-life rally in Augusta for the Anniversary of _Roe v. Wade_. It was sponsored by the interfaith “Alleliua” community. It was raining, and crowded, so I sat in my van and listened to some of the talks. I heard some speaker–don’t know if he was Catholic or Protestant–saying how we’re all “flavors of the same Christianity,” and that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church is subordinate to the Bible. Heresy trumps abortion, and I high-tailed it out of there. Then I went to the polls, and thought how I could not stomach voting for a non-Catholic when I had two acceptable Catholic candidates to choose from. Then I thought about the fact that Paul’s people were criticizing Santorum’s position on contraception, and voted for him.

That same weekend, this stuff about the HHS mandate came out. We are faced with a true culture war, where everything is pointed against the Catholic Church. Even ex-Catholic Glenn Beck, who was criticized here and elsewhere for seeming to tell Catholics to leave their Church a few years ago when he told people to leave any churches that talk of social justice, is praising the Church for taking a stand, and saying that the Obama administration is at war with the Catholic Church. Glenn Beck and the Limbaugh brothers have recently been speaking out in support of the Catholic Church, Rick Santorum, Pope Benedict XVI and Timothy Cardinal Dolan, saying how they’re taking a firm stand against Obama and for Christian values.

We’re at a watershed moment in our culture, and the Church Herself is under attack. I have no doubt that Romney, if elected, will just continue the work that Bush and Obama have started. The only one who can stem this tide against the Church in America is Rick Santorum.

D. Santorum shows signs of being the next “Reagan.”

It was under Ronald Reagan that Pat Buchanan coined the term “Paleocon” to distinguish from the former liberals who had joined the GOP over abortion and other social issues. Reagan breaking his promises to shut down the then relatively new EPA and Department of Education in favor of using them to promote a conservative agenda was one of the tell-tale signs of the so-called “neo-conservatism.”

The last GOP primary to last this long was 1976, when Reagan won 10 states against Ford. Obviously, Ford lost the election to Carter, but Reagan won four years later. If Santorum *doesn’t* win this nomination, he’s a shoe-in for 2016 (assuming there *is* a 2016 to look forward to). If the delegates are tied or close to it going into the Convention, we may see what I’ve been predicting: a party split where the GOP divides along its social conservative and economic conservative lines the way the Whigs did in the 1850s and the Democrats did in 1860. If Obama and Romney split the secularists, and Santorum wins the religious voters, Santorum could win.

E. Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony “Swing Vote” Kennedy

Those three are now the longest-serving members of the Supreme Court, if not the oldest. At least one of them is most likely to die, retire or get sick in the next 5 years. If Obama has a chance to nominate another justice, it will most likely be to replace a conservative or moderate. We’re not only dealing with overturning Roe v. Wade now, but “gay marriage” in numerous states, as well as Obamacare (which may hopefully be overturned in a few weeks), and several other unconstitutional laws passed under Obama (and Bush).

In 8 Years, George W. Bush nominated 2 justices to replace a couple “moderate” Republican justices. Obama’s replaced a liberal with a liberal. If he can replace a moderate or a solid conservative with a liberal, then liberals will have the majority on the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future, and if any of these issues make it to the Court, they can solidify them into so-called “settled law.”

If Romney gets in, he’ll most likely appoint “moderate Republicans” who can go either way.

Only with Santorum do we have a chance of appointing conservative jutices and getting the solid conservative majority we need to get this country back on the right track.

That’s why paleocons need to hold their noses and vote for Rick.

Dear US Bishops, Please Do Your Jobs

If there weren’t already plenty of reason to put Canon 915 into effect, now is the time. The 13 “Catholic” Senators who voted against the Church last week, Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius (who was told not to receive Communion but not excommunicated), and possibly Joseph Biden (he claims to have had a profound experience on a recent visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe; maybe he converted?) have all clearly shown their complete disdain for the teachings of the Church, and they need to be excommunicated.

The Pope has said that Obama is an enemy of the Church. Cardinal Dolan and Cardinal George have said it. It’s time the bishops backed up their words with some actions.

The Culture Wars are Real, and It’s Time to Draw a Line

A year or two before he became Pope John Paul II, Karol Cardinal Woytyla gave a sermon in which he said that the Church is engaged in the greatest conflict in her history. Nearly 20 years later, in 1995’s _Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)_, Bl. JPII would speak of the war between a Culture of Death and a Culture of Life.

Yet, somehow, even today, there are Catholics who insist there’s no such thing as a “Culture War,” and that those of us who speak of a “Culture War” are Right Wing racists.

Now, in 2012, Benedict XVI has made a similar statement to the US Bishops in their ad limina visit, that our country with its proud heritage of religious freedom is facing an unprecedented attack on that very freedom, and that he’s greatly concerned with the things coming out of the Obama Administration.

Those bishops, in turn, down to the most liberal bishops like Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, have spoken out against Obama’s attempt to force Catholic doctors to provide contraception, Catholic insurers to pay for it, and Catholic employers to pay for it in their insurance plans. Initially, even some liberal Catholic publications stood with the bishops in defending freedom of conscience, but when Obama offered his ludicrous “compromise” (if contraception is a “free” option on insurance plans, then the Church wouldn’t technically be paying for it), now the usual suspects (most notably, _America_ Magazine) have called on the bishops to be more tolerant and compromise. One Obama Administration official even tried to say that the US Bishops have always opposed the “Health Care Reform” act commonly known as Obamacare, and that this is just a guise for their Republican activism! HAH! Timothy Cardinal Dolan of NYC has called them out on this boldfaced lie, noting how the USCCB actively supported health care reform *other* than its inclusion of abortion and contraception.

Indeed, this writer, for one, was sorely disappointed in how actively the US Bishops *did* promote Obama’s health care agenda. It seemed like it was another case of them just paying lip service to opposing abortion and contraception, and totally ignoring the fact that the Catholic Church condemns socialism.

Yet, “The Catholic bishops are just a bunch of Right Wing Activists” has become the talking point of the Left. The very fact that this whole thing is about crushing the Catholic Church is shown in the many comments from the Left that the Church’s position on contraception is unfair to women, that this is not about freedom of religion (“because your religion is wrong”), etc.

Again, the Obama Administration is using the support of liberal Catholics like the folks at _America_ and numerous liberal Catholic pundits around the country to argue that the bishops are “out of touch” with “rank and file” laity. Nancy Pelosi, who shows that she’s possessed by the fact that she wouldn’t even utter the name of Jesus when asked when Jesus became Flesh, says that she’ll “stand with my fellow Catholics in supporting the President in this bold step.”

8 years ago, Pat Buchanan said that the murder of Terri Schiavo ought to be the watershed moment in the culture wars, that there was no going back. Most certainly, nothing so clearly marked the lines of the Culture Wars than that event. Liberals and some “conservatives” were absolutely convinced that Michael Schiavo was a noble crusader for the “right to die.” Pro-lifers were convinced that the Schindlers were noble crusaders for the right to life. There was no middle ground. There could be no middle ground.

A great judicial injustice–that one single judge who had numerous behind the scenes issues with his legitimacy as a judge and his collusion with Michael Schiavo could keep ruling on the same case without appeal–was rectified by Terri’s Law, the federal law passed to allow a federal appeals court to hear the case. The federal courts refused, saying they had no jurisdiction–even though Congress had just used its Constitutional authority to *give* them jurisdiction. At first, the Republicans in the House suggested impeachment hearings for Contempt of Congress against the federal justices involved, but when the media and the Congressional Democrats expressed outrage, and the bugaboo of a “Constitutional Crisis” was raised, the Republicans backed down, and Terri was cruelly starved to death.

That should have been it, but nothing happened.

Now, eight years later, we have this clear case of the government trying to force the Catholic Church to not only endorse but pay for artificial birth control, and you would think that would stand as a similar line of demarcation.

The bishops are saying, again, that this is a war against the Church. Yet when the Senate voted last week on an Amendment to provide conscientious objection in Obamacare, the Senate voted it down, and 13 “Catholic” senators voted against the Church. Again, Nancy Pelosi and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, both “Catholics,” have stood firm with Obama. Why aren’t all of these people being excommunicated forthwith???

Now, we have the permutation of the Sandra Fluke Affair. This feminist activist testifies before Congress that she wants Congress to force Georgetown University, a Catholic institution, to pay for her birth control so she can fornicate at will, and Rush Limbaugh calls her a “slut” (which dictionary.com deampanfines as an “immoral or dissolute woman”), and the debate is over whether it was rude of Rush Limbaugh to call her that!!

Catholics are complaining that it was wrong to call her that, that her private activities are nobody’s business (then why did she testify about them before Congress?), etc.

It’s outrageous! When are we going to say enough is enough? I’m sick of being told that conservatives are divisive, that conservatives are hateful and vitriolic and venomous. I’m sick of being told that we should just look aside at the murder of 50 million babies. I’m sick of being told that rampant divorce and adultery and fornication are to be tolerated because “Jesus said not to judge.”

I’m sick of the people who act like Catholicism began with Vatican II, who balk at Tradition in every other respect, telling me that it’s traditional for Catholics to vote Democrat. I’m sick of being told “There are other issues besides abortion” when I cannot figure out *one* issue in which the Democrats are in accordance with Catholic teaching. I am sick of being told that I have to “CoExIsT” with people who want me dead. I’m sick of being told that I have to have “unity” with people who have a totally different worldview than I do. I’m sick of being told that I’m wrong to say there’s only one True Church, that no one has a monopoly on truth and all ideas should “CoExIsT,” but that the same people who say that will throw a hissy fit if you suggest that Biblical Creation or even Aristotelian Intelligent Design should be taught in conjunction with Darwinism.

I’m sick of liberal Catholics trying to claim that they are “good Catholics” when they vote for the Democrats, oppose Papal teaching, support artificial birth control, oppose the Reform of the Reform, oppose the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy, oppose traditional devotions, oppose Latin, oppose any Catholic teaching that comes before 1960, and totally ignore Leo XIII’s condemnation of the Americanist Heresy. I’m sick to death of being told that I have to accept such people as my fellow Catholics, when they very clearly are heretics and are not in any way shape or form Catholic, other than the fact that they show up every now and then to receive Communion sacrilegiously.

This *IS* a Culture War, and the Church *IS* under attack, and it’s time we acknowledged it, and it’s time we started by identifying the traitors who are attacking the Church from within.

It’s Official: Catholics Cannot Support Obama because Cardinal Mahony says so!

If you missed it, the Obama Administration has officially ordered the Catholic Church, as part of its “Health Care Reform” that so many “Catholics” supported, that Catholic organizations *MUST* pay for abortions and contraceptives as part of its insurance packages, that there will no longer be any “conscience exemptions,” and the same applies for doctors and hospitals providing these “services.”

The supposedly “Catholic” director of HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, made the announcement publicly last week that this decision was final, and there is no exception. Ironically, her announcement comes a week after the Supreme Court ruled against the Obama EEOC in a religious freedom case, with even Obama’s appointed justices ruling against the Reich, and hopefully, this precedent will help when this goes to court.

In the meantime, the US Bishops are making their ad limina visit to Rome, and the Holy Father on Thursday made an address talking about how America’s tradition of religious liberty under “Nature’s God” is facing grave threats from the forces of secularism, and while he doesn’t refer to Obama by name, he refers to Obama Administration policies:

In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

He refers to the Church’s authority to speak in the public square and advise governments on matters of morality. He also speaks of the need for an informed “an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.” That’s a far cry from some people who say laity can think whatever they want, that laity can choose to believe contrary to what the Church teaches. It’s a far cry from people who say that we should embrace the culture uncritically.

If you’re not of the mindset to listen to B16, maybe two of the most liberal bishops in the country can sway you.

Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg–the guy who banned EWTN, said Terri Schiavo’s murder was just a family issue and no one else’s business, and said he was more alarmed by the “venomous” pro-life rhetoric than Obama speaking at Notre Dame–a guy who generally sided with Mahony, Weakland & co. on every issue–issued a statement in late November condemning the measure:

In my homily I chose to bring up a possibility arising from Health and Human Services regulations which bother me deeply precisely because I and many others find them violative of the religious liberty assured us by the first amendment to our Constitution and also of our personal moral consciences. These regulations will apply to the implementation of the soon to be fully implemented federal health care law.

The Diocese of Saint Petersburg has approximately 2300 employees who participate in a generous health care plan as part of their employment. While it covers almost everything, it excludes contraceptives, abortifacients, sexual enhancements like “Viagra”, etc. The first draft of the regulations for implementation issued by the Department of Health and Human Services mandated these and more services which I and others think violate the freedom of religion of our Church as regards procedures which we believe to be not in keeping with God’s law. Further, if a person is required by law to provide, perhaps in a hospital emergency room situation procedures violative of their individual conscience( in the past they have been exempt because of conscience concerns), they would be forced by this law to do so. Reacting to the first wave of complaints from the Catholic Church the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services modified the regulations slightly to exempt only Catholics working for a Catholic employer (other religions with serious moral concerns would also be included). Alas, I would still be required by law to provide the services to non-Catholic employees. What kind of sense does that make?

But there is an even larger problem for the Diocese of St. Petersburg. It is self-insured and our plan is only administered by a health care agency. Therefore the diocese by this law is an insurance company and all insurance companies must provide these services with currently no exemptions allowed. There are no exemptions to even include the situation outlined above. If the argument focused on abortion, a matter of public morality since the life of another person is involved, I suspect many more people would carry the fear which I have about this exercise of regulatory authority but because it seems to focus on contraception, a matter of private morality, lots of people do not understand what is at stake here. My genuine concern is that it is simply the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. In my homily I outlined perhaps the only option left for the diocese as an employer if these regulations stand and believe me, colleagues in ministry and service and I will experience a marked loss of health care insurance coverage. A Church cannot be forced to violate its teaching, do something which is possibly immoral, and stand idly by and watch our Catholic doctors, nurses and aids forced to perform procedures which are both against their conscience and previously protected. That’s what involved in this and there is considerable opposition to the position of the Church coming from Planned Parenthood and other organizations which see this moment as an opportunity to close the conscience clause exemption which they have long despised. If you don’t believe me, read the blogs of those other groups. No one in yesterday’s congregation has the power to fix whats wrong with the Affordable Health Care and Patient Protection Act of 2010. Only the President of the United States and his Secretary for Health and Human Services can do that but a gathering for Mass such as yesterday’s does provide me a forum for vetting a serious question of the intersection of law and morality and learning from those far more skilled at interpreting and applying the law than myself. From the reactions which I immediately received and throughout the day yesterday by e-mail and personal contacts, posing the matter of religious freedom was appreciated and as you can see below, I asked nothing of those present but to listen, reflect and pray.

And if *he’s* not good enough, none other than Roger “I’m as infallible as the Pope” Mahony himself, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, the guy who nearly went to jail for his aiding and abetting of homosexual priests, the guy who was publicly criticized for a pro-life activist at a pro-life dinner for supporting nothing but pro-choice politicians, the guy who’s been photographed with numerous notorious Demonocrats, has also condemned Obama and says that while he “can’t” endorse a candidate (never stopped him endorsing Democrats), he will vote for the candidate who supports freedom of conscience:

For me there is no other fundamental issue as important as this one as we enter into the Presidential and Congressional campaigns. Every candidate must be pressed to declare his/her position on all of the fundamental life issues, especially the role of government to determine what conscience decision must be followed: either the person’s own moral and conscience decision, or that dictated/enforced by the Federal government. For me the answer is clear: we stand with our moral principles and heritage over the centuries, not what a particular Federal government agency determines.

As Bishops we do not recommend candidates for any elected office. My vote on November 6 will be for the candidate for President of the United States and members of Congress who intend to recognize the full spectrum of rights under the many conscience clauses of morality and public policy. If any candidate refuses to acknowledge and to promote those rights, then that candidate will not receive my vote.

This is a sad moment in the life of our country where religious freedom and freedom of conscience led to the formation of this new Nation under God.

So, Obama Catholics, how can you possibly support your support for this Communist???

OK, I’m waiting. . . .. What Lessons Have We Learned?

I’ve been raked over the coals this past few weeks:
1) For reacting against a movement of fanatics who would defy the USCCB, shut down EWTN, etc., just for the sake of their loyalty to one man
2) For suggesting that this one man who is widely judged to be a “good and holy priest” is not showing signs of holiness by his recent actions
3) For pointing out that a priest who is suspended or laicized is not allowed to be publicly speaking on matters related to the Church without special permission
4) For defending the names of certain “gurus” or “professional Catholics” who have criticized this person
5) For applying my critical reasoning skills to the public statements of this person, and for comparing those statements to the statements of his superior and the spokesmen of two dioceses
6) For actually doing research on the issues at stake, reading the relevant sections of canon law, reading sections from the book _Coronary_ which paints John Corapi as the hero of his lawsuit against Tennant Health Systems while still pointing out behaviors that seem unbecoming a priest, and merely pointing to some problematic aspects of John Corapi’s public behavior and teaching.
Never once have I engaged in undue speculation or rumor-mongering (though some have accused me of that). Never once have I revealed any private “inside knowledge”. I have for the most part avoided talking about things that I thought were unnecessary to talk about or didn’t constitute credible claims, even though those fed into my analysis.

Further, while I have certain suspicions, and feel that we have yet to hear all the metaphorical shoes to drop, I have avoided publicly speculating about what I think will happen in due time.

I have always stuck to focusing on the public facts and statements–which are there for anyone to read–and to my legitimate interpretations thereof.

Today, I feel mildly vindicated and deeply saddened and angered to learn that things were far worse than I was even willing to admit.

The Society of Our Lady of the Trinity has issued another statement, confirming that they *did* find evidence of behavior unbecoming a priest in the allegations against Fr. Corapi. The statement clarifies many of the questions that have been bandied about in the blogosphere. For example, one debate has concerned the “non-disclosure agreement,” whether Corapi made his employees sign a “standard” NDA or whether this NDA specifically referred to his accuser’s allegations. SOLT confirms that it *does* pertain to his accuser’s allegations, and he paid her $100,000 to sign it, possibly having paid similar amounts to other witnesses.

SOLT says that, based on an investigation of his emails alone, without corroboration of the witnesses he intimidated by suing or threatening to sue them, they have proven several of the allegations against him, and you can read all that in the linked article.

I would like to highlight a few points that confirm what I’ve said:

[blockquote]SOLT also recognizes that Fr. Corapi is now misleading these individuals through his false statements and characterizations. [/blockquote]

I seem to recall that I and others have been accused of calumny and detraction for merely pointing out that Corapi’s statements contradict each other as well as known facts and statements of his superiors. SOLT has now said affirmatively that Corapi has been lying. Obviously, those who think “lying for a good cause” is OK will not have a problem with this.

[blockquote]He holds legal title to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock, and several motor boats, which is a serious violation of his promise of poverty as a perpetually professed member of the Society.[/blockquote]

There’s been some debate in this whole thing about whether SOLT obliged him to poverty, but, as I’ve argued, *all* Catholic priests are obliged by Canon Law to practice simplicity, and this lifestyle is not indicative of simplicity.

[blockquote]SOLT has contemporaneously with the issuance of this press release directed Fr. John Corapi, under obedience, to return home to the Society’s regional office and take up residence there. It has also ordered him, again under obedience, to dismiss the lawsuit he has filed against his accuser.[/blockquote]
Now, SOLT has previously stated that Corapi resigned and it was working with him to process that resignation. This, however, is not a contradiction. Corapi has publicly claimed he’s not resigned and that he’s acting in obedience. By this move, SOLT is throwing down the gauntlet and making it clear that, if Corapi engages in further “Black Sheepdog” garbage, he will be canonically disciplined, and those who follow him are doing a very bad thing. They’ve tried to play nice with him, and he’s refused. They’re not going to let him paint himself a good Catholic lay evangelist who happens to be a suspended priest being unjustly persecuted by the Shadowy Conspiracy ([TM] and [C] Michael Voris).

[blockquote]SOLT’s prior direction to Fr. John Corapi not to engage in any preaching or teaching, the celebration of the sacraments or other public ministry continues. Catholics should understand that SOLT does not consider Fr. John Corapi as fit for ministry.[/blockquote] (emphasis added)
In other words, Catholics who read “The Black Sheepdog” with anything but a critical eye are committing an act of disobedience as bad as attending an SSPX or “Old Catholic” service.

However, that’s not what concerns me tonight. What concerns me is the attitude and defiance of Corapi’s “fanbase,” many of whom are still sticking their heads in the sand.

“This is a time for prayer,” they say. Way to play high and mighty after weeks of calumniating Bishop Mulvey and Fr. Sheehan.

“I won’t believe it till a civil court decides” (So now ecclesiastical matters are to be decided by civil courts?)

“I don’t trust anything coming from [SOLT/Corpus Christi/EWTN/The Register]”. Uh-huh.

“How do we know this report is even for real?” (Initially, it was appearing only on the _National Catholic Register_–and we all know EWTN, new owner of the Register, is part of the Vast Shadowy Gay Conspiracy, though it has since appeared on the SOLT site itself).

Etc.

One of the first bloggers to comment on this was South Carolina’s own Anglican convert priest, Fr. Dwight Longenecker. He offers a very good commentary about the issue of “celebrity priests” and how the admiration that surrounds them may not necessarily be about spiritual advancement so much as people trying to palliate their frustrations.

Fr. Longenecker happens to be a follicly challenged priest with a goatee and a booming voice. Back when this stuff started in March, Fr. Longenecker wrote a great post on a similar reflection, telling a story of one time he was flying into Birmingham for an EWTN interview. Some people came up to him, “We love you!” they said. He asked which of his books they liked. “Books?” they asked. “Aren’t you Fr. Corapi?” “No, I’m Fr. Longenecker.” “Oh, well, we’ve never heard of you!” With that, they left.

At the time, many of the comments on his site and others were things like, “Obviously, [Fr. Longenecker] is just jealous of Fr. Corapi’s popularity” or “I’ve never heard of this ‘Fr. Longenecker.’ How do we even know he’s a real priest?”

These “Never Criticize a Priest [If His Name is John Corapi]” people have had no problem criticizing Fr. Longenecker. They haven’t apologized yet. No, they’re just digging their heads further into the sand.

I’ll let Mark Shea speak for himself about the accusations that these loving Christians have made against him:
[blockquote]Turns out I have borne a grudge against Fr. Corapi for years, according to some readers. I have hated his orthodoxy, according to others. Still others inform me that I burn with envy for his riches. We must not forget that Pride is also a huge motivating factor since he has racked up far more convert scalps than I have, a fact which (I am told) fills me with cold jealous fury. According to some, I am likewise filled with jealousy for his manliness and I am secretly a homosexual (or at least fellow traveler), a fact proven by my once having lunched with Fr. Sirico. [/blockquote]

The Anchoress also has some wise words on this “bomb” as she puts it.

Again, I AM NOT JUDGING THE SOUL OF JOHN CORAPI. It is sounding increasingly like he was never particularly sincere in his ministry, but I hope he’s a genuinely a struggling soul, or mentally ill, or some combination. His soul is between him and God.

I’ve been accused of “kicking a man when he’s down.” Problem is; he’s not “down”; he’s rebelling against the Church, and SOLT has now confirmed this, and in that sense, yes, I will defy him in his rebellion. Those who enable him by cheering him on are the ones who endanger his soul. I am seeking the good of his soul when I call on him to engage in absolute obedience to his Society.

So, let me reiterate my positions and the reasons I’ve addressed this so vehemently:

1) Those who support Corapi as “The Black Sheepdog” are endangering their own souls, and SOLT has confirmed this.

2) Corapi is putting his own soul at risk, and needs to be admonished.

3) Those who support Corapi have been calumniating a lot of good Catholics, particularly the SOLT superiors and the bishops of Corpus Christi and Helena, and they still refuse to apologize for it.

4) “Orthodoxy” and charisma are not enough. Absolute obedience to the Church and to Canon Law counts for something. I keep thinking of one of my favorite lines from _House, MD_. Early in the series, when they are treating a death row inmate, Dr. Cameron expresses surprise that Dr. Foreman supports the death penalty. She says how disproportionately African Americans are executed versus Caucasians. “That just means we need to kill more white people,” says Foreman.
I keep thinking of that as I hear people express their hope that Saint John Corapi the Litigious will be the Martyr of Unjustly Accused Priests and over turn the evil “Dallas Policy” (even though both SOLT and Corpus Christi have said this has to do with SOLT’s internal policies and not the “Dallas Charter”). Just the opposite is true: for too long, bishops have allowed “minor” infractions of discipline, canon law, and liturgical norms to go unpunished, which sets the culture in which priests feel free to engage in worse infractions, whether doctrinally or morally.
I’ve always argued of liberal priests that liturgical abuse and laxity regarding the “trappings” of the priesthood (clerical garb) is to be associated with false teachings (the classic “I can’t wait for the Pope [or ‘all these traditionalists’] to die” homily/tirade I’ve heard from time to time) and with misdeeds (ranging from pornography to fornication to abuse).
The thing about priests like Corapi and Euteneuer is that they were engaging in a kind of “Cafeteria Catholicism of the Right”, the kind we see in some aspects of the Traditional Movement and many aspects of the Charismatic Movement, and certainly in the whole Medjugorje hoax. It’s a mentality that following what feels “spiritual” or following what the individual layperson judges to be “holiness” is more important than following the legitimate authorities of the Church. It’s all about “loopholes” in Canon Law. When you start to live in loopholes and exceptions, it’s not long before you stop following the rules altogether.

Know where You Are on the Liturgical Calendar

It can be confusing keeping track of saints and feast days, particularly in regard to the General Calendar, Local Calendars, and if you are at all involved with an Order.  I’ve been asked from time to time to provide guidance for people trying to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and I’m always looking for convenient “One stop Shop” options for my own prayer life.

Well, I’ve spent most of the past day and night working on a Spreadsheet that gets that process started.  It is ready for beta-testing.  Right now, all it does is calculate what day of what Season it is, and what the celebrations are, if any.

If you want to try it out, download the following attachment: Collects.

Here’s how it works (I’ve only uploaded it in Excel 2007+ format):

1.  The first page of the Spreadsheet, currently simply “Sheet1”, announces the date, the day of the liturgical week, and what if any special feasts or memorials are designated for today according to your preferences (see below).  If you are following along with the Office, then you’ll know to turn to the Proper of Saints and the appropriate Common for the kind of Saint.  Eventually, I hope to add features where it will automatically provide the pages, and maybe even the collects, antiphons and reading references.  Right now, though, it just tells you what’s going on in the most general sense.

2.  Here’s the fun part.  The second tab is called “Preferences.”  I give you a list of religious orders (Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, Benedictine and even Anglican Ordinariate).  If you wish to use the calendar of one of those Orders, enter its number at the top of the list (as I am a Carmelite, the default option is 1).

Next, it asks for Nationality.  I’ve done the major English-speaking countries: US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malta and Ireland.  Again, each has a number.  Enter the number that corresponds to your homeland.

4.  The Third tab on the Spreadsheet is called “Saints” and is the calendar of saints.  I have a special column there for “Patrons.”  If you want to highlight a patron saint of you or your family, or else you want to add a special patron saint or celebration that’s not already listed, enter it in that column.   You could put in anniversaries, birthdays or parish dedication days if you want to include those in your Office.

5.  The next tab is called “Liturgical Seasons.”  Don’t mess with this, as it’s carefully programmed, and some columns are hidden, but based upon the dates of Easter and Christmas for the year, it calculates the entire liturgical year, from last Advent through next Christmas.

The calendar year’s Christmas will always be under “next,” and the Calendar year’s Christmas season and epiphany will always be under “Last.”

But I put a lot of work into looking up the algorithms for calculating Easter and Ordinary Time.

The last sheet is called Calculations–don’t even go there; a lot of the background formulae are there.

Hope this helps a bit.  As I add features, I’ll repost it.

The Hour of Mercy

I don’t have my copy of Divine Mercy in My Soul (the diary of St. Faustina) in front of me, and I wouldn’t know where to look in it if I did, but Jesus, in His Mercy, keeps His demand for the “Hour of Mercy” rather general. While the Chaplet is recommended, He asks that we make some act of devotion to His Passion and/or His Mercy during that hour. Certainly, it’s an ideal time to make a Holy Hour: say the chaplet, say the rosary (particularly Sorrowful or Glorious Mysteries), stations of the Cross, etc. I like to say the Prayer before a Crucifix that hour, if I haven’t already, or to say the 15 Prayers of St. Bridget.

But another way I like to observe the Hour of Mercy, with or without the Chaplet, is to pray the Penitential Psalms. On Divine Mercy Sunday itself, I posted links to YouTube videos of all seven. In the modern day numbering, they are Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143. I also posted a YouTube video of each Psalm for each day of the past week at 3 PM.

If haven’t already, please scroll through the icons. I found some really cool videos. Some are classical settings of Psalms; some are “praise and worship” settings. At least one is in Latin. One is in Hebrew. Some are in other languages. Some are recited; some are sung. KJV and NAB are both represented. If the translation wasn’t provided in the video, I provided it below.

Now that I know how to advance post, I’m trying to set it so that there will be some special feature here for the Hour of Mercy every day. This week, I’m linking the Psalms in the New American Bible online (just click the title bar to get the Psalm), and posting an image of Jesus (three versions of Divine Mercy, and other images related to the Paschal Mystery) to reflect on as you pray the Psalm.

We’re entering into the Month of May. Time for the Thirty Days’ Devotion to Mary. From our brethren in the Eastern Lung, it’s also a great month for praying the Moleben to Mary.