Saturday, September 27, 2008

Work Like There's No Praying

... And pray like there's no working.

In private correspondence I recently bemoaned to my brothers Aramis and Porthos that regardless of what we see and attempt to explain about the present cultural crisis whose symptom set includes (a) most recently the U. S. financial meltdown, (b) the on-going western demographic suicide (with its concomitant dionysian promiscuity, abortuary child sacrifice cult, and degenerate "lifestyles"), and (c) return to structural paganism in a twin-pincer attack by the proponents of (b) above and the Scimitar, we see precious little difference made by our efforts. If lawmakers continue their exercises in futility and fear of Main Street (e.g., what voters will do when they see their pensions are gone), we may see such drastic efforts as I put in fiction in The Dionysus Mandate.

We are fortunate that such a faithful son of the Church as René Girard has set forth, at the very least, a taxonomy of sin that offers bountiful avenues of investigating and thematizing in ever more nuanced ways the enemies of Catholic truth and the patrimony of the Magisterium.

But what past that? Talk, talk, talk? Unlike some who get trapped in an ugly adversarial doubling rivalry that pass themselves off as "righteous" or at least superior (though they can't explain why coherently), defenders of Catholic truth know full well our own sinfulness and aptness to human "funny business," to use Bailie's turn of phrase. We know we can't get into a spitting contest or claim to cast the first stone in innocence. Our last recourse to is legitimate defense; our first, chivalry to all.

And what does that mean? It means first to place oneself in position to receive God's grace provided for us through the Sacraments of the Church: assist at Mass frequently; engage in the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently; honor one's life-long nuptial Vows, celibate or marital (the greatest Adventure). Practice the Virtues, Cardinal (justice, temperance, prudence, fortitude) and Theological (faith, hope, charity).

And pray constantly. I find the Jesus Prayer of the Eastern Church a powerful aid, inserting not only myself, but others in it: Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me/(Name) , a sinner. It is a remarkably tonic spiritual practice for keeping Our Lord at the center of one's being while not dismissing anyone from one's psyche - even enemies who need our prayer.

And, of course, find ways to distance yourself from the mimetic swirl.

Of all these, the Theological Virtues strengthened and made possible by the sacramental grace of God encompasses the greatest contribution we can make. Work like there's no praying and pray like there is no working. Deo gratias.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Some Issues Have More Weight"

"MANY SOCIAL ISSUES ARE important," writes Archbishop Charles Chaput in his important little book, Render Unto Caesar. "Many require our attention. But some issues have more weight than others. Deliberately killing innocent human life, or standing by and allowing it, dwarfs all other social issues ... the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin warned against the misuse of his 'seamless garment' imagery to falsely invest different social issues with the same moral gravity" [211]. Chaput quotes:
Adopting a consistent ethic of life, the Catholic Church promotes a broad spectrum of issues ... Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and scandal of capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing and health care. Therefore, Catholics should eagerly involve themselves as advocates for the weak and marginalized in all those areas.

Catholic public officials are obliged to address each of these issues as they seek to build consistent policies which promote respect for the human person at all stages. But being "right" in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life {emphasis in original}.

Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the "rightness" of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as "the temple of the Holy Spirit" - the living house of God - then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia strike at the house's foundation {emphasis in original}. These directly and immediately violate the human person's most fundamental right - the right to life. Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand. Such attacks cannot help but lull the social conscience in ways ultimately destructive of other human rights.
- U. S. Catholic Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life,
quoted in Render Unto Caesar

Raison d'être

If the market and economy collapse shows nothing else, it shows that modern technology has done nothing to improve morality. Human greed, villainy, and corruption simply have newer and faster methods of doing unto others before they do unto you.

Perhaps we shall all soon have the opportunity to take the advice of Henry David Thoreau to simply, simplify, simplify. But shall we heed the advice of Gil Bailie who has said that the reason we are here at all in the first place is "to love and be loved, to forgive and be forgiven"?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mediaeval Builder

Daniel Mitsui at THE LION & THE CARDINAL shares sage words of Francis B. Andrews on The Mediaeval Builder. It may also help explain the present financial mess as well.

Scimitar Goals

The Israeli government is going about the sensible business of setting up a global jihad forum, while the U. S. State Dept. is trying to keep the word "jihad" from being used. Meanwhile, an Egyptian who converted to the Christian faith from Islam says the goal of global jihad simply is the takeover of the world.

Who you gonna believe? Hmm?

Waiting with The View

I had the misfortune this morning to be forced to wait (aptly enough) in the waiting room of the surgeon who removed my appendix. That experience in itself can be of some interest, as Flannery O'Connor made clear in her story, "Revelation". And I really was glad to be getting my stitches removed. So, why the misfortune?

There happened to be a television mounted in an overhead area, as is the apparent wont of doctors' waiting room designers these days, with a sign draped over the bottom lip of it proclaiming, "Do Not Touch the TV."

And on this television, there happened to be playing "The View" with a panel of women comprised solely of pop culture and decidedly liberal-leaning divas. Whilst I filled in three-pages of new-patient forms, these opined at a volume well past conversation level on such varied topics as a pastor who blessed Sarah Palin "in Jesus' Name," their strong objection to discussion religion and politics in open forums (but not voicing objections to the same in public arenas, apparently), and other significant topics such as fear of aging (but not death).

As I slowly ground my teeth and applied all the force of concentration back on the forms needing filling, my high opinion of the man who extracted my appendix slowly diminished while sweat fomented on the brow on which I tried to maintain the appearance of normalcy, lest the other denizens of the waiting room think they were in the presence of a deranged loon.

Now, thinking back on this auditory equivalent of dental drilling without Novocaine, the association that comes to me is the depiction that C. G. Jung gave in his autobiographical book, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, of tribesmen who blustered and strutted as long as the sun shone. But when night fell, they quaked and cowered near the campfire till dawn's light reassured them once more.

These "View" gals are happy to cast proud, dismissive, and complacent aspersions toward those who find their substantiality and source of hope in the God revealed in the Church's Scriptures and Traditions when the studio lights and cameras lend them the ephemeral being of celebrity. But let reality make its rude presence known in the words, "cancer", or "there's been an accident," or "he/she died on the way..." - and the quaking, cowering pagan would quickly out.

Blessed are the virgins whose lamps are filled when the Bridegroom comes (Mtt 25:1-13).

Culture of Life Video & A Zinger

The "must-see" video of the presidential campaign, it is said (regardless of the over-the-top sound track).

Meanwhile, the McCain campaign clears up unsupported claims by the NYT: The New York Times is trying to fill an ideological niche. It is a business decision, and one made under economic duress, as the New York Times is a failing business. But the paper's reporting on Senator McCain, his campaign, and his staff should be clearly understood by the American people for what it is: a partisan assault aimed at promoting that paper’s preferred candidate, Barack Obama.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Sir Galahad - George Frederick Watts (1817-1904)

True Nobility

The present financial "crisis" (read: mess) is ready ground to be dug in order to find exemplars of avarice, conniving, and thievery. In short, it is filled with the kinds of grubbing human behavior stuffed in fine men's wear that makes one a believer with Paul Ricoeur's "masters of suspicion" - the constant deconstructor of any good in human nature.

Where can one turn for true nobility, honorable action, and hope? The one place to which one has always been able to turn: Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Modern persons have not perhaps lost completely their capacity to grasp the sacramental nature of grace and nature. For in the Mass (Holy Eucharist, Holy Communion, etc.) we are not only invited to enter the Paschal Mystery with our understanding but with our being. We fulfill in our participation the normative and imperative of Our Lord in St. John's Gospel, chapter 6:
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. {54-56}
Through sheer grace, our nature becomes sanctified. We become ennobled participants in the Being of the Triune God, and by our acts shall others know us: honorable, loved, chivalrous - children of the Most High.

Real Presence + Holy Eucharist

Catholic News Service reports:
ALBANO, Italy (CNS) -- The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist has a dynamism that draws people in and makes them more like Christ, Pope Benedict XVI said.

At a Sept. 21 Mass in Albano, a small town in the hills south of Rome, Pope Benedict consecrated the new altar in the town's cathedral.

The pope told those gathered for the morning Mass that they should be filled with joy knowing that "each day the sacrifice of Christ" will be offered on the new altar.

"On this altar, he will continue to sacrifice himself in the sacrament of the Eucharist for our salvation and that of the whole world," he said.

"In the eucharistic mystery, renewed on every altar, Jesus makes himself truly present," the pope said.

His presence has power, he added.

"It draws us in to make us his own, to make us similar to him; it attracts us with the strength of his love, leading us out of ourselves in order to unite us to him, making us one with him," the pope said ...

Pope Benedict told the people of Albano that they must be in communion with one another in order to be in communion with the Lord. They must approach the altar ready to forgive one another and to ask God's forgiveness.
Read all here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Cure for Weariness

Rivendell - The Last Homely House
"That house was, as Bilbo reported long ago, 'a perfect house , whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.' Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness."
- J. R. R. Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring

If the home of the elves is a bit too rarified, I suggest very strongly that of Farmer Maggot, Bamburlong.

Wouldn't That Be Interesting

Karen Hall says this found its way into her email box: Snopes Says Undetermined - On or about October 5th, Biden will excuse himself from the ticket, citing health problems, and he will be replaced by Hillary. This is timed to occur after the VP debate on 10/2.

Catholic Hospitals May End Services

Australian Archbishop Denis Hart is warning that Catholic Church's extensive network of hospitals in Victoria faces a "real threat" from planned new abortion laws.

The bully tactics of atheist materialists are threatening not only the Catholic morals - and therefore its tenets of faith - but the lives and welfare of those to whom Catholic hospitals would minister. This outrage shows the "luciferian logic" (Gil Bailie) of the vacuum called the modern secular state. The consequential judgment of this move on the culture of death is yet to be determined.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Horns of the Pro-Life Dilemma

Here is a fellow who calls himself an “orthodox Catholic” and will not be voting for either the Republican nor Democratic presidential candidate. [ht: Mark Shea, who considers himself a fellow traveler]

My question is, Is a vote for the lesser of two evils morally wrong? Or more specifically, while I, too, have issues with Sen. McCain's inconsistent stance toward the Culture of Life, isn't my non-voting a way of helping the decidedly Culture of Death candidate possibly enter into office?

Roger L. Simon - An Open Letter

Prof. P. Z. Myers - Primitive Sacred Persecutor

Earlier I posted on a faithful band of brothers who showed extraordinary chivalry, legitimate defense, and restraint when attacked verbally and with spittle in the face of a large pro-abortion rally in Defensa de la Catedral de Neuquén.

Now, a pro-life pharmacist is facing persecution from the University of Minnesota biology professor who a while back desecrated the Holy Eucharist:
P. Z. Myers, professor of Biology at the University of Minnesota Morris turned his sights this week to pro-life pharmacist Mike Koelzer of Kay Pharmaceuticals in Grand Rapids, Michigan ...

"I think Mike Koelzer is a contemptible, sanctimonious ass, and I hope he goes out of business," said (Prof.) Myers on his blog on Monday. "If Mike Koelzer comes to your town to speak in some demented fundagelical [sic] church, feel free to picket and protest, and feel free to attend and grill him with difficult questions."
Read all of article. [ht: New Advent]

As readers of René Girard's mimetic theory know, proponents of the primitive sacred never feel so sanctimonious and righteous as when they ignore the truth taught by the Christian faith for 2,000 years and counting. Namely, all of us are sinners and cannot possibly cast the first stone of sinlessness.

Yet people who exclude themselves from such knowledge and converted reasoning invariably become ad hoc priests of the primitive sacred, inviting others to try their methods of having their guilt removed "on the cheap," as Gil Bailie says, via methodologies of victimization.

"Prof." P. Z. Myers, like the spitting, reviling pro-abortionists before the manly, chivalry defenders of truth, goodness, and beauty, is just such ad hoc priest of the primitive sacred. All the more so because he doesn't even know his status, caught as he is in mythological, luciferian logic.

Body and Soul

E. Christian Brugger raises relevant points about dualism, Gnosticism, and the (post-) modern attitudes toward our bodies - "designer" or otherwise - in Dualism, the Human Body & the Self.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Together for the Family

Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, President, and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, Secretary, of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue recently sent this letter (presumably) to all Muslims on the occasion of the end of Ramadan:

Dear Muslim friends,

1. As the end of the month of Ramadan approaches, and following a now well-established tradition, I am pleased to send you the best wishes of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. During this month Christians close to you have shared your reflections and your family celebrations; dialogue and friendship have been strengthened. Praise be to God!

2. As in the past, this friendly rendez-vous also gives us an opportunity to reflect together on a mutually topical subject which will enrich our exchange and help us to get to know each other better, in our shared values as well as in our differences. This year we would like to propose the subject of the family.

3. One of the documents of the Second Council Vatican, Gaudium et Spes, which deals with the Church in the modern world, states: 'The well-being of the individual person and of human and Christian society is intimately linked with the healthy condition of that community produced by marriage and family. Hence Christians and all men who hold this community in high esteem sincerely rejoice in the various ways by which men today find help in fostering this community of love and perfecting its life, and by which parents are assisted in their lofty calling. Those who rejoice in such aids look for additional benefits from them and labour to bring them about.' (n. 47)

4. These words give us an opportune reminder that the development of both the human person and of society depends largely on the healthiness of the family! How many people carry, sometimes for the whole of their life, the weight of the wounds of a difficult or dramatic family background? How many men and women now in the abyss of drugs or violence are vainly seeking to make up for a traumatic childhood? Christians and Muslims can and must work together to safeguard the dignity of the family, today and in the future.

5. Given the high esteem in which both Muslims and Christians hold the family, we have already had many occasions, from the local to the international level, to work together in this field. The family, that place where love and life, respect for the other and hospitality are encountered and transmitted, is truly the 'fundamental cell of society.'

6. Muslims and Christians must never hesitate, not only to come to the aid of families in difficulty, but also to collaborate with all those who support the stability of the family as an institution and the exercise of parental responsibility, in particular in the field of education. I need only remind you that the family is the first school in which one learns respect for others, mindful of the identity and the difference of each one. Interreligious dialogue and the exercise of citizenship cannot but benefit from this.

Read all of Christians and Muslims: Together for the dignity of the family.

Deus Major Est

Early Christian martyrs went to their deaths singing Deus major est, non Imperatores (God is the greater One, not the emperors). And this spirit is just as offensive to worldly authority today as it was twenty centuries ago.
- Archbishop Charles Chaput

Holy Land of the Crusaders

A venture of faith into the Holy Land of the Crusaders, courtesy of the Franciscan Custody for you, gentle reader. They are happy to point out they have been there since the 13th century.

One would do well to slosh past the unhistorical slander and piffle about the Crusaders. We were there first, not the Scimitar, period. The Scimitar was a johnny-come-lately to Israel by 500 years and then made it hard for pilgrims to travel in safety. Deal with it.

Learn about the men who traversed mountain and vale to protect Christian pilgrims visiting the holy sites of Christendom. Get the facts here.