Saturday, April 11, 2009

Harrowing of Hell

Harrowing of Hell or Christ in Limbo (1510) - Albrecht Dürer

Imagine yourself in the dark. The gloom impenetrable, the helplessness complete, the despair infinite. If you chance upon others, you avoid eye contact, the fear and (self) loathing such that none wants to reach out, because all know that each is an aching sack of vulnerability, a wail waiting to happen (again and again and again).

How did this happen? you ask yourself. But you know the answer: a pleroma of decisions born of ignorance, pride, reluctance, meanness, cruelty, hard-heartedness, fear, want, and entitlement; every one of them justifiable; every one of them without justification – you just did each one for the hell of it.

A crack appears, a light so bright it hurts – a good hurt, like a foot asleep waking up or an abscess being lanced – and a cracking so loud it startles everyone and everything within earshot. It is like boulders being smote and splintered; like planets being knocked together like billiard balls; galaxies sent spinning and sailing as lightly as Frisbees on a sunny day in the park.

And another sound reaches your ear: singing. Singing as you haven’t heard in … O God! centuries? Suddenly, all those who like yourself would not, could not, lift their heads and shoulders due to the castdown-downness and cast-out-outness are joining as one, in all parts, all gladness and thanksgiving.

To greet the one and only One Who might enter this … this place … with the strong, well-rounded shoulder muscles and bright face and brighter eyes – striding, splintering all bonds, breaking loose all fears, all the menial and petty, all the huge and ugly sin that brought you and everybody else here in the first place.

You join your voice with theirs’! Can Heaven boast such a sound? Can the ninety nine sing like the one found and brought Home on the strong shoulders of the Good Shepherd? Is there anything so bright, so shining, as the one coin found by the woman who swept and searched? Is there anyone so dear as the son who once was dead, but now is alive?

All of you who look upon this Lord now lift your heads, hearts, shoulders, with straight backs. And you look fully at one another with eyes bright with tears, sorry, so sorry, yet so happy and full of love - now - for one another. What fools! O God! Thank God! O God! O Lord!

Our God is a sucker for redemption. If there is a way (there is a Way), He will make it possible for us to climb up and out and into His illimitable, irrepressible, indomitable loving Arms to safety and sunshine and Joy in the morning.

Through the Cross of Calvary he came all the way down ... here – for This. For us. For ... me. For all of us.

Le Corbusier, Holy Saturday, and Narnia

As stories such as this and this and this become more common, it will gradually dawn on those who affirm the Christian faith taught by the Catholic Church that we are being marginalized, ghettoed, and quarantined.

For a "greater good" or some such falderal of secular Pelagian Gnosticism, Mother Church is being tarred as the obstacle to the human utopia of the 21st century. Belief that a Supreme Being values human life, from conception to the last dying breath, for instance, is horse and buggy; Planned Parenthood and euthanasia are bullet train and Le Corbusier.

In this sense, Catholics are faced with a new persecution with a militant, technologically-enhanced efficiency never dreamed of by Lord Cecil and the cabal behind Elizabeth's throne during the English reformation. It is wrong to think the internet will somehow be immune.

Areas to look for guidance and hope during these apocalyptic times include all of Walker Percy's works, C. S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength and Prince Caspian, as well as J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Of these, Prince Caspian may be the best: the Telmarines have driven Old Narnia out of court, influence, and consciousness. Yet the Old Narnians remain; one, Dr. Cornelius, has become the tutor of the young prince himself, infiltrating the royal family itself with the values, lore, and faith of Old Narnia.

And, as I have written, we must never count out Providence in our battle with neo-paganism. Despair, as Holy Saturday reminds us, is a fleeting thing to those who place their hope, faith, and love in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, April 10, 2009

New Shroud Discoveries


The Entombment of Christ (1602-03) - Caravaggio

Unholy War

George Neumayr, editor of Catholic World Report, writes in the American Spectator:
As Obama gears up to abolish the conscience rights of Christian pro-lifers at American hospitals, as he uses executive orders to force Christians to finance abortions at home and abroad, as he places Christian opponents of gay marriage in the moral category of racists, he tells Turkey that "America is not and never will be at war with Islam" and accepts the moderation of Muslims without question.

Never mind that self-proclaimed moderate Muslims in Turkey, Sufi-Shia Muslims, have been persecuted by the Turkish government; never mind that Turkish Christians have been persecuted too, banned from opening churches or running seminaries and thrown into jail for insulting "Turkishness" after giving open witness to Jesus Christ.

No, none of this is worrisome to Obama. His enemy is not Islam abroad, but Christianity at home. Indeed, if he treated Muslims the way he treats believing Christians in America, Muslims would call it a holy war ...

Read all of Obama's Unholy War Against Christianity, Not Islam.

Away from prevailing opinions

The Holy Father at the Chrism Mass said the following:
...[H]ow do things stand in our own lives? Are we truly pervaded by the word of God? Is that word truly the nourishment we live by, even more than bread and the things of this world? Do we really know that word? Do we love it? Are we deeply engaged with this word to the point that it really leaves a mark on our lives and shapes our thinking? Or is it rather the case that our thinking is constantly being shaped by all the things that others say and do? Aren’t prevailing opinions the criterion by which we all too often measure ourselves? Do we not perhaps remain, when all is said and done, mired in the superficiality in which people today are generally caught up? Do we allow ourselves truly to be deeply purified by the word of God?

Friedrich Nietzsche scoffed at humility and obedience as the virtues of slaves, a source of repression. He replaced them with pride and man’s absolute freedom. Of course there exist caricatures of a misguided humility and a mistaken submissiveness, which we do not want to imitate. But there also exists a destructive pride and a presumption which tear every community apart and result in violence. Can we learn from Christ the correct humility which corresponds to the truth of our being, and the obedience which submits to truth, to the will of God? "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth": this word of inclusion in the priesthood lights up our lives and calls us to become ever anew disciples of that truth which is revealed in the word of God ...
Read all here.

The Days Are Here

Christ Leaving the Praetorium (1873) - Gustave Doré

Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me,
but weep for yourselves and for your children.
For behold, the days are coming when they will say,
'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore,
and the breasts that never nursed!’

- Jesus, Lk 23,28-29

Lev - Hobbit Rebellion at UN

I'm an admirer of the writing and reporting of Elizabeth Lev. So it comes as no surprise to me that she sized up a recent surprising turn of events at the United Nations, of all places. The usual flight from love and life (read: covenantal marriage, giving birth to and raising children) was taken up by the monolithic powers and principalities, "progressive" double-speak ready to be voted upon, when suddenly a small band of ... hobbit-states put the kibosh on the whole work of evil.
... four hobbit-like states, whose collective national products probably don't equal the operating budget for Planned Parenthood, spoke loudly and convincingly. Malta decried the consistent attempts by the commission to expand "reproductive health" to include abortion.

The delegate from Santa Lucia saw to the heart of the proposed wording and stressed that her delegation understood that this provision did not threaten the right of health care providers to refuse to perform or be complicit in abortions as a matter of conscience.

As Galadrial said to the wavering Frodo, "even the smallest person can change the course of the future."

At the last moment at the close of the meeting, the ring of power was thrown back into the fires of Mount Doom from whence it came. "Sexual and reproductive health and rights" was struck from the text.

In these days of imminent conscience coercion, massive government funding of abortion and other gloomy signs on the horizon, this little fellowship at the United Nations demonstrated what Tolkien's characters whisper during the darkest hours and Pope Benedict XVI exclaims from nation to nation: "There is still hope."
Read all of Elizabeth Lev's inspiring and brilliant Hobbit Alliance Brings Triumph of Hope.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tenebrae - Light of Christ

The present-day enemies of the Catholic Church - that is, the ones attempting a degradation of the Catholic Church, are doing so through legislative and judicial means. They are also utilizing strategies of swaying public opinion via political capital, riding the coat-tails of the popularity of B. O. While there is an offensive odor to this, it might be seen to have a high degree of probability of success, regardless of the fact that the Catholic Church has faced many enemies for its two thousand year existence.

Why might its enemies have such success? because militant and technologically-enhanced "progressive" agendas are, as never before, able to coerce and sway masses of people. Therefore, the Catholic Church may be in a corner it has never been forced to occupy - globally - in a relatively short amount of time.

Except ... except it's foes are forgetting something vital: the Catholic Church stands on the ontologically superior Being of Jesus Christ. This and this alone gives the Catholic Church the clear advantage in this struggle against the princes and rulers of this age. The people who make up the Catholic Church are fallen, feeble, mortal. His power is unquenchable, irrepressible, unshakeable. All - all - coherence comes solely from Him.

And woe to those who arrogate to themselves the task of thwarting that which He wants active and working in the world. One might say they have the same kind of reality check ahead as did Saul of Tarsus ... if Our Lord chooses to grant them such a shot at repentance ...

Holy Thursday

The Eucharist (1647) - Nicolas Poussin

'Not a Christian nation'

Sez you.

Walks like a duck

You must admit, Pam makes a strong point.

Hee haw

There is an old Jewish saying: if one man calls you a donkey, ignore him. If two do, think about it. If three do, buy a saddle.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Burne-Jones PRB

The Prioress' Tale (1898) - Edward Burne-Jones

Saunders - Rosaries, Death, & Lent

William Saunders writes at The Catholic Thing:

Catholicism, unlike gnostic forms of Christianity, is about realistic joy, and not the mindless or naïve joy that is being peddled in our popular culture. Catholic joy is rooted in reality. And the reality is that we all suffer and die – on the way, we pray, to eternal life.

When our loved ones die, we miss them, not only emotionally, but physically. That is, we long to hold their hands, to embrace them. It may seem there is no longer any way to fulfill that longing. After all, their physical presence is gone.

One of Catholicism’s gifts, however – at least to me – is a place where I can go to be with those whom I love but who have departed: the graveside. There, while the spirit has departed, the body remains, awaiting the resurrection. There I can be in a kind of physical proximity to the person who has died.

Two weeks ago, I visited the grave of my mother for the first time since her funeral. A friend and I prayed aloud a rosary for my lady and for the repose of her soul.

Standing in the dirt and grass over the grave, with the rosary in my hand, praying as Our Lady taught us, seemed truer to reality than any prayer had before. I felt consoled, yes, but more importantly, I felt connected to the ultimate realities – to God, to His mother, to mine, to the life beyond the grave, and to the incarnate life to come in the resurrection of the just.

I thank the Catholic Church for giving us a faith that touches – and transforms – physical reality. I thank the Church for a faith that, during Lent, leads us to deny our physical selves so we can more deeply connect to God, but a faith that then leads us, in the Triduum, to the very messy and unpleasant physical reality of pain and suffering and death, a reality that would be a horror but for the One Who redeemed it by dying for us, and for our beloved dead.

Read A Rosary for My Lady.

Hughes PRB

Vanity Fair (1872) - Arthur Hughes
(Click to enlarge)


Such "news" as this audacity, or this tripe and piffle, or this fluff-theology, all show the degree to which logic can be corrupted by accepting the wrong set of presuppositions; either by the sin of pride or heresy or pomp.

First principles, a priori presuppositions which are faith statements and cannot be proven, by definition, are the beginning places of battles today - between fundamentalist evolutionists and creationists, between the Scimitar and secularism, between O-bots and Catholics ... the list goes on. All human reasoning begins at presuppositions and from them arrives at inferences based upon them.

"Who are you going to believe?" is one step from, "Who do you say that I AM?" Pray, this Wednesday of Holy Week, for the conversion of sinners, and sinful thinking.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mark Shea gets it exactly right

Because Obama really is an enemy of the Church and has no compunction about surrounding himself with people who are quite nakedly contemptuous of Her. What is required is a cool-headed response to a very cool cucumber who is coolly implacable in his will to defeat the Church's teaching on a number of crucial points (albeit not all).
Read all of Why It's Important to Silence the Nutjobs.

It is de rigueur to keep smiling while in the spotlight of fame and prestige; it throws off suspicion of the masses ("If s/he's smiling, s/he can't feel guilty and/or have evil intent."). Secondly, one never dirties one's own hands in an executive position; let the henchmen do it for you. And thirdly, follow a plan of patient deconstruction of what you want eventually to destroy. It may take decades, but we can and will bring the Catholic Church to an ignominy it so richly deserves. And keep smiling. Waving. Smiling. Waving.

Time to batten down the hatches, Christians. The storm of human pride is upon us.

But not for me

Dymphna posts a video by a tax lawyer who sings a parody regarding an "honest mistake" of not paying taxes for five, count ‘em – five years ...

Seiyo - Two Buglers

At the risk of being labeled one who is painting "them" evil so as to be able to "hate" them, I give you one of the clearest-eyed extant cultural analysts, the Brussels Journal's Takuan Seiyo:
The symptom, in the West, is as old as the Goths and the Huns. But the disease is as old as the end of the Roman Empire, and before that, the Babylonian one. Flowering followed by decadence, followed by a partial population replacement with imported barbarians, followed by chaos, internal war, and wilting.

Addressing the solipsistic degeneracy of the American Empire and the despairing self-asphyxiation of post-national Europe are a precondition for disposing of the symptom. Fighting the symptom as if it were disembodied cannot bring cure, since the body’s maimed autoimmune system recognizes Islam and Muslims as its own, and its own – the anti-Islamization dissident – as the invading disease.

It should be none of our business whether Muhammad was a pedophile, nor should we be digging for damning quotes in the Koran or making damning movies about Islam. That we do so is the normal and spontaneous reaction of the scant remains of Western society’s nearly atrophied autoimmune system. It’s the autoimmune rejection of a foreign and deeply incompatible substance, forcibly injected into the West’s body as though phenol into a vein by the West’s insane ruling shamans.

Islam is everything bad its critics say it is. But one who has visited extensively in Muslim countries – and I have – returns home from some of them wishing he’d been able to import some of their features. Consider this:

- Which Muslim country is sick enough to encourage immigration by Christians, let alone welfare-consuming Christians, subsidize Christian churches, cower before Christian dissidents who despise their host society and its religion?

- Which Muslim head of state or potentate is so gelded as to state that if enough of his state’s subjects want to institute Christian (or just Western) jurisprudence instead of the law of the land, he sees no reason to object?

- Which Muslim country is lunatic enough to adopt on a wide scale the prima facie madness of denying the most obvious truths about racial, gender and cultural differences – and spending trillions (in euros, dollars, anything) to build a sham palace of cards in public education, employment and immigration based on those mad presuppositions?

- Which Muslim society is stupid enough to fail to understand how profoundly it differs from the West and from the West’s “infidel?” Which is ravaged by the Western virus to such an extent it fails to understand that its identity, its soul, depends on a vigilant rejection of the West’s culture and values, while recognizing that its economic wellbeing depends on playing a game of cooperation?

- Find a single Muslim head of state who goes out of his way to explain that Christianity is the religion of peace, and that Crusader really means someone who likes to cruise...
Read all of Tale of Two Buglers.

Monday, April 6, 2009

This Low Tavern of Life

My prayer is not the whimpering of a beggar nor a confession of love. Nor is it the petty reckoning of a small tradesman: Give me and I shall give you.

My prayer is the report of a soldier to his general: This is what I did today, this is how I fought to save the entire battle in my own sector, these are the obstacles I encountered, this is how I plan to fight tomorrow.

My God and I are horsemen galloping in the burning sun or under drizzling rain. Pale, starving, but unsubdued, we ride and converse.

"Leader!" I cry. He turns his face toward me, and I shudder to confront his anguish.

Our love for each other is rough and ready, we sit at the same table, we drink the same wine in this low tavern of life.

- N. Kazantzakis

Dreams of an altar of muddling through

Tom Holland at The New Statesman recognizes the inchoate outlines of the primitive sacred at the heart of the Scimitar. Hear me on this, please: NOT so that we can 'put blame on "THEM" (so as to) justify our hatred of "THEM" and satisfy our pent up desire to vent.' Rather, to see with vision unclouded by the vacuous secularist claim that all religions are "the same." They are not, as any student of René Girard's mimetic theory knows full well.
(The) sense of dislocation is hardly unique to our own times. The pagans of classical antiquity, who would cheerfully adopt the gods of alien pantheons and mix and match them with their own, were invariably brought to experience this sense of dislocation whenever they confronted Christianity’s one true God. Christians in turn might sometimes feel a similar uneasiness when obliged to contemplate the deity of Islam.

For instance, it is said that shortly after Muhammad’s death in 632AD the followers of the Prophet sent an embassy to Heraclius, the Christian emperor in Constantinople, demanding the surrender of his dominions and his conversion to Islam, on pain of invasion. “These people,” the emperor is said to have responded in some bemusement, “are like the twilight, caught between day and nightfall, neither sunlit nor dark – for although they are not illumined by the light of Christ, neither are they steeped in the darkness of idolatry.”

Not even Tony Blair at his most histrionic has ever put it quite like that – and, self-evidently, 7th-century Byzantium, with its murderous power struggles, its delusions of grandeur, and its imploding economy, was far removed from the Britain of New Labour. Nevertheless, Heraclius’s simile does pose in peculiarly acute form a question with which Christians have always had to wrestle: are the similarities between their own faith and Islam more profound than the differences?

Blair himself – impeccably ecumenical, even while following in the footsteps of Heraclius by launching an invasion of Mesopotamia – has been as gung-ho as anyone in emphasising the former. “Jews, Muslims and Christians are all children of Abraham,” he informed a somewhat startled Labour Party a fortnight after the destruction of the twin towers. “This is the moment to bring the faiths closer together in understanding of our common values and heritage – a source of unity and strength.”

Who could possibly argue with that? Only the most bigoted and bone-headed kind of crusader, it might be thought. And yet, and yet, there is a danger that too emphatic an insistence on what unites Christians and Muslims will prove as damaging in the long run as casting them as doomed to eternal conflict. The Crusaders themselves, ironically enough, rarely regarded Islam as something irredeemably alien; rather, when they bothered to think about their adversaries’ beliefs at all, they tended to regard them as merely a clumsily plagiarised heresy, a deficient and not particularly stimulating misunderstanding of their own religion.
Read all …

Coming Home

This might account for this.

O Gnostic Messiah

Grant Havers at Taki's speculates regarding I Won's apparent interest in medieval heretic, Joachim de Fiore, in Obama the Gnostic.

Close, Mr. Havers. I will see you the Gnostic flavoring, and raise you: I Won is the froth on the post-modernist cauldron of a failed nihilistic paganism; a progressivist, messianic remnant of a discarded Christian hope.

Shroud of Mystery

In the Too Cool category, the Timesonline says the Knights Templar hid the Shroud of Turin, a Vatican source reveals.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Notre Dame Prayer Rally - Today

Francis Beckwith posts portions of Notre Dame Professor Fred Fredosso's comments at a Palm Sunday Prayer Rally on campus. Professor Freddoso is Professor of Philosophy and Oesterle Professor of Thomistic Studies.
I stand here today as a representative of that small group of faculty that supports NDResponse and stands behind the exemplary students who have organized it in reaction to the university administration’s announcement that it will honor President Obama at the graduation ceremony in May. Their faithful witness is an inspiration and a shining example even if it is not clear what good, if any, will come of it. For as the Holy Week liturgies reminds us, Christian witness is not about power or tangible results. It’s about the life-giving truth of the Gospel and about the Father who passionately loves each individual human being.

I also stand here as the parent of four Notre Dame graduates, including a 2009 graduate, a parent who cannot in good conscience—or, in my particular case, without giving scandal—attend my own son’s graduation ceremony.

Make no mistake. This protest has to do with President Obama’s actions and with his intentions regarding future actions, and not merely with his beliefs ...
Read more here.

Belloc - Wells's Fallacies

Biographer Robert Speaight (Life of Hilaire Belloc, 1957) relates Hilaire Belloc's criticism of H. G. Well's History of the World. As a mental experiment, try inserting a few of our contemporary writers where I place parentheses:
(Wells's) ephemeral fallacies - religion without dogma; the Catholic Church invading Europe like an alien and holding it down; Wycliffe flaunting his vernacular; a priesthood of conspiring conjurers and a laity of servile dupes - these were the mental stock-in-trade of a whole mass of the English middle-classes who imagined they were in the vanguard of progress. (Wells) was their prophet; sharing their shallow antinomianism and their bumptious hopes; a typical product of the Protestant underworld ... (Wells) declared that 'Existence impresses me as a perpetual dawn'.

As for (Wells's) 'dawn', Belloc did not think it would last very long, and he did not think it was the precursor of the day. It was 'the shoddy remnant of the Christian hope, and when it is gone there will return to us, not the simple paganism of a sad world, but sheer darkness: and strange things in the dark.'