Category Archives: war

Remembering 9/10/2001

Yes, you read that right.

Last night, I was in the ER.  I was in what I call “Marfan limbo”: I felt kind of like I did before my aortic dissection: I’ve been very active lately, I’ve had a lot of stress, my blood pressure has been erratic, and I feel a lot of pressure and pain in my arteries (a concept which many doctors claim is “Impossible,” even though it’s the experience of many people I’ve talked to either with Marfan syndrome or atherosclerosis).  Before I digress into a complaint about ERs, the point is I came to the hospital around 7 PM and got into a room at 11.   I went to CT at 12:15 AM and noticed that the clock in my room said 2:15, so I wondered if it was broken or just off by 2 hours.  It still said 2:15 when I left the hospital at 1:45.  So it wasn’t “off by two hours”; it was “off, period,” thus illustrating the adage that a “stopped clock is right twice a day.”

An illustration of the adage in application happened 17 years ago.
On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh, a disgruntled Gulf War veteran and atheist, used a truck full of fertilizer to commit what at the time was the deadliest and most destructive act of terrorism on US soil in history.
On June 11, 2001, McVeigh was executed, and given St. John Paul II’s guidelines for the proper use of the death penalty, his execution could have been considered justified.  At that point in my life, I was a young husband with a wife and unborn daughter, trying to work on my MA thesis and trying desperately to find a full time job so my wife could be a stay at home mother as she wanted.
We had a stack of Catholic periodicals I hadn’t had time to read yet.

On September 10, 2001, I was doing both–working on my thesis and catching up on my periodicals.  I read two things which a day later had great significance and showed me as always that God tends to guide my reading where He wants and when He wants me to know things.

C. S. Lewis’s fictional and allegorical books are sometimes considered novelizations of his nonfiction-he himself makes that point specifically in some cases, such as his association of That Hideous Strength with The Abolition of Man.

So in preparation for my thesis on Till We Have Faces, I was rereading The Four Loves and happened to be reading the part about patriotism.  Therein, Lewis (who was ironically pro-death penalty and one of the few pro-death penalty Christian writers that influenced me in my early reading) talks about how “Just War Theory” and Self-defense follow parallel principles.   He says that if someone invades your home and threatens you, robs you or assaults you, you have the right to fight back, but you do not have the right to chase the invader back to his home and kill him.  That’s vigilantism, not self-defense.  Thus, Lewis says, just war has to be defensive, not retaliatory.

Then I picked up a stack of slightly old diocesan newspapers and scanned for articles that might still have relevance.  I hit upon the USCCB’s statement about the then-upcoming execution of McVeigh.  I thought of the broken clock metaphor when I read the statement, presented by Roger Mahony, who argued that violence only perpetuates violence.  They warned that worse terrorism might result from McVeigh’s execution.

Three months to the day after McVeigh was executed, those words proved prophetic, as an even deadlier and more destructive act of terrorism was perpetrated by men with utility knives on commercial airlines.

These men had come into the country “legally” on student visas but stayed after those visas were expired.  Like McVeigh, the disgruntled Gulf War veteran, they were supposedly motivated by their anger at the United States’ imperialism in the Middle East.  I thought at the time how this event not only fulfilled that warning by the Catholic bishops–it also validated every warning that Patrick “I like what he has to say but I don’t think he can win so I’m not voting for him” Buchanan had made during his bids for the presidency, how if Republicans had nominated Buchanan instead of “likely to win” incumbent Bush in 1992, or possibly even in 2000, that 9/11 might not have happened because Buchanan would have tightened immigration policy, and brought our troops back to guard our own country instead of oil companies’ interests.

A week or two before, we went to a Sunday Mass where the priest quoted the famous Billy Graham quip that if God didn’t punish America, He owed an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Yet know this, that the kingdom of God is at hand. [12] I say to you, it shall be more tolerable at that day for Sodom, than for that city. [13] Woe to thee, Corozain, woe to thee, Bethsaida. For if in Tyre and Sidon had been wrought the mighty works that have been wrought in you, they would have done penance long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. [14] But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgement, than for you. [15] And thou, Capharnaum, which art exalted unto heaven, thou shalt be thrust down to hell.” (Luke 10:11-15, Douay).

For about a week, people flooded into churches.  People prayed.  It seemed like America was having its Ninevah moment.  Then, suddenly, it became “They hate us because of our freedom.”
Suddenly, we were being told, “Islam means ‘peace,'” even though I was always taught before that–by Muslims–that “Islam means ‘submission.'”  We were being told that it was wrong to see God’s justice in the “tragedy,” that the victims were “innocent” (even though there has only been one innocent victim in history).  Rather than doing things that might have actually prevented something like 9/11 from happening again, like tightening our immigration policies and bringing our troops back to our country to defend our own borders, we got involved in a perpetual “War on Terror” that has just perpetuated the cycle of violence even further, and we’re told that if one criticizes this cycle of violence, if one criticizes the imperialism of it, one is “dishonoring the Troops.”

Socrates said it is better to suffer wrong than to do it.

A common theme of many Marian apparitions–which have very accurately warned of the times in which we live–is that our only weapons should be the Rosary and the Cross.

Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

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“Don’t show me those graphic pictures!”

There is a common complaint, with which I tend to sympathize, that we shouldn’t focus so much on the graphic images of abortion or of victims of terrorism and persecution. On the other hand, as Fr. Frank Pavone says, “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.”
However again, people rightly point out that images of violence can desensitize us to violence and/or inspire us to violence. Particularly when it comes to seeing the images of those being martyred by radical Muslims, we’re warned that promotion of such images might promote further violence or allow to the terrorists to get exactly what they want by allowing them to get credit for their misdeeds.
As far as that goes, as Thomas Merton points out in Bread in the Wilderness, would anyone know of Sihon, king of the Amorites or Og, the king of Bashan were it not for the Sacred Scriptures recounting how Israel triumphed over them?

Then it occurred to me, reflecting on the recent 21 Coptic Christians whose status as martyrs was affirmed by ISIS recording them professing Christ as they died, how Christian devotion is fundamentally based upon “graphic images” like these:

Hour of Mercy: Psalm 51 (New American Bible)

Hour of Mercy: Psalm 102 (New American Bible)

Hour of Mercy: Psalm 130 (New American Bible)



So, yes, please don’t glorify evil by showing graphic images of evils being committed today.

Pray for Peace and Reparation!

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. And by the infinite merits of His most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins , save us from the fire of hell. Take all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need.
O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Pray the Rosary for Peace! Please!

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Pray for Peace in the Ukraine and in the World


If you’re reading this, and you’re not doing something that absolutely prevents it (which you likely aren’t if you’re reading Facebook or blogs; if so, do it when you’re free), drop everything else and take 15 minutes, at least, to pray together for the Ukraine. Preferably say the Rosary, or the Jesus Rosary, and/or the following Psalms (first number is Septuagint/Second is the Masoretic/common English numbering): 29/30, 111/112, 131/132, 132/133, 140/141, 143/144

Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom the winning fleet at Lepanto was dedicated.

“Imagine” there were no “COEXIST”-ers

“Imagine” if there were no people with “COEXIST” bumper stickers, listening to John Lennon and insisting that everyone had to think and act alike so there’d be “peace.”
I was thinking this weekend of the following rather short Socratic dialogue.
Liberal: “Religious people frighten me; spiritual people inspire me.”
Me: “Why is that?”
Liberal: “Because religion is the cause of all the wars. Spirituality is about peace.”
Me: “Oh, so who would you consider an example of a ‘spiritual’ figure?”
Liberal: “The Dalai Lama.”
Me: “Oh, and what about a ‘religious’ leader?”
Liberal: “The Pope.”
Me: “OK, and do you have a specific war in mind? Maybe like Iraq?”
Liberal: “Of course.”
Me: “So, what would you say to the fact that the Dalai Lama supported the war in Iraq, but Popes John Paul II, Benedict and Francis have all spoken against it?”

Are “We the People” the “Enemies” of “the United States of America”?


A few days ago, some former private named Bradley Manning was sentenced for 35 years in prison for selling military “secrets” to Wikileaks. Now, this case raises many questions/issues. One is the problem of whether it’s possible to 99% disagree with someone and then use the person as an example in the 1% where you agree, just as it’s possible to agree with 99% of someone yet disagree with 1%.
So, in this case, I shared he above “meme” the other day, which happens to use Manning’s picture to illustrate a point I happen to agree with. It got several “likes,” mostly from people whom I would expect to give such a response, and angry comments (including one de-friending) from two people I’d have expected to respond angrily. One provided a few facts about the case with which I was admittedly unfamiliar. Earlier that day, when I had replied to one friend’s post on the verdict, I asked who Manning was, and said I couldn’t keep all these Obama scandals straight.
Now, one detail which Angry Commentor #2 pointed out was that Manning *sold* the documents to Wikileaks: this is certainly problematic on multiple levels, including the “principles” to which Wiki/Open Source sites are supposed to adhere. Also, around the time that I had tentatively shown Manning some modicum of support, the “news” broke that “he” considers himself a “she,” and wants to be called Chelsea and given a “sex-change” operation at taxpayers’ expense. So, again, he obviously has some issues of his own. However, the Manning case, like the Edward Snowden case, raises an important Constitutional issue in our present media age, especially in the light of the recent revival of Jane Fonda’s controversial acts in Vietnam.
Once again, I was expecting to alienate a few people in Facebook last week when I questioned why people are protesting Fonda–a Communist pro-abortionist–portraying Nancy Reagan, an occultist pro-abortionist. I can understand and agree with people who protest Fonda in general, but I am a bit perplexed over taking issue with this particular role, as if Nancy Reagan is some sacred person who makes Fonda’s portrayal offensive–such as, for example, if she’d been portraying the *other* Mrs. Reagan, the late Jane Wyman, TOP. interestingly, I’ve seen articles about protests of “one actor” in the movie which show Oprah Winfrey and Michael Rainey in the accompanying picture, making it appear to a causal reader/clicker that the opposition is about one of them and, therefore, “racist.” Anyway, in one discussion of Fonda’s role in _The Butler_, someone claimed she was given a list of names and SSNs by POWs in Vietnam who hoped she’d let their families know they were still alive, but instead turned the information over to their captors, who killed them. This story has been proven a hoax, however. Fonda did actively support the Viet Cong, but she never acted in a way that directly killed POWs–especially since some of those allegedly dead POWs are alive.
Anyway, the allegations seemed to be an interesting parallel to the claims that Manning’s and Snowden’s actions have resulted in the deaths of US soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. At first, I was going to include it as a contrast: that if what Fonda is falsely accused of doing (and, as often gets pointed out, the 8th Commandment still applies to celebrities) is true, it would certainly constitute treason. However, that allegation is of secretly leaking secret information directly to an enemy (in which case, since all the alleged “witnesses” were killed, how would anyone know of it?). Is it really the same thing to release “secrets” to the public?
Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution states:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

In the cases of Snowden and Manning, they were revealing information to “We the people” via “the Press.” As various commentators and memes have pointed out, if they are giving “aid and comfort” to the “Enemies” of the “United States,” then the conclusion must be that the government considers “The People” to be “Enemies.”
My angry interlocutors insisted that Manning deserves the death penalty. While capital punishment was the standard penalty for treason at the time of the Founding Fathers, Article 3, Section 3, Clause 2 clearly modifies the English Common Law practice (“Corruption of Blood” meant that the penalties could be extended to the traitor’s family), and some of the most notorious traitors in US history, such as Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen, were sentenced to life in prison. In any case, this creates a dilemma for Catholics that my interlocutors were not willing to address (particularly the one who left one comment then defriended me without opportunity to respond): Manning or Snowden may meet the standard for capital punishment under US Law (obviously, the courts decided Manning’s actions did not meet that standard), but do they meet the standards of the Catholic Church?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church was famously revised to reflect adjustments to Church teaching in Bl. John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae</em?. Paragraph 2267 of the Second Edition states:

Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”68

Assuming that it was Manning or Snowden’s intention to cause the deaths of soldiers or spies, and assuming it could be proven with certainty that their actions directly resulted in actual deaths, the death penalty could only be justly used if that was the only way of protecting people against further deaths. Since their alleged crimes involved “theft” of information, it is hard to see how either case meets that standard.

That gets us to the second question: is what they did actually *theft*?

Have a Heart: Rabbi Gellman, a Marfan, talks about War on Terror (only YouTube video I could find with him)