Thursday, December 31, 2009

God Rest His Soul

I'll be heading to the Midwest tomorrow for the express purpose of saying goodbye to my father, Cecil, who died today at the age of 90.

He was married at seventeen; a father at eighteen. He went to college full-time, worked simultaneously to support his growing family, and heard the call to the ordained ministry. Ordained an Evangelical United Brethren pastor, he became an United Methodist pastor when the two denominations merged in 1968.

He dutifully and lovingly brought up my sisters and brothers as Bible-believing Christians to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbor as ourselves. We memorized the names of the books of the (Protestant) Bible and scores of scripture passages, so that our cognizant minds were littered and haunted by Sacred Scripture. All five of us strayed, but all returned to faith in Jesus as Our Lord.

His devotion to God's Kingdom was unflagging; his willingness to preach the Gospel in season and out embarrassingly steadfast; his disagreement with my conversion to Catholicism tolerating and loving, if comprehending not. If anything, the virtues became more and more evident in his life the older and feebler he became.

He took us to cool places on camping vacations, like Yellowstone's Old Faithful (cf. photo above). He never earned more than $20,000 a year in all of his years, yet we never went without, never felt we were poor. He never was in debt.

He was part of what Brokaw called "the greatest generation." We will not see the likes of them - or him - again.

My Father + Requiescat in pace

Saturday Night Devotions - Right After Bath Time

I would appreciate your prayers for the repose of my father, Cecil. He lived to see the birth of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cusack - Chartres Pilgrimage

And back to the sublime. Young Andrew Cusack provides commentary and a photomontage of the 2009 Paris-Chartres pilgrimage back at Pentecost. I find it rousing to see so many young people taking part in this event. Enjoy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gimme That Old Time Religion

What will draw the absent males back to church and solve a host of ecclesiastical woes? A Lutheran in First Things has the solution:
Temple prostitution.

I know, I know. Outrageous and offensive. I can hear readers already dismissing the idea out of hand. And I admit that we may not be ready for it quite yet. But please hear me out on this.

First off, let’s address the common objections. Sure, there are a handful of Bible verses that might seem to condemn the practice. But all the condemnation of temple prostitution involves pagan practices or worship of false gods. The objectionable thing is the idolatry, not the physical act itself. Sanctified, faithful prostitution in service of the true God is a new thing. The Biblical writers never foresaw or contemplated sanctified, faithful, God-pleasing prostitution in the churches and thus never wrote about it. Attempts to find a Biblical injunction against the practice therefore fall short..More>>

150 Reasons

Dave Armstrong's interesting and thought-provoking piece of apologetics: One Hundred Fifty Reasons I'm Catholic - And You Should Be Too!

I would love to think it would only take, oh, 75 reasons for most persons. But from my experience, 300 wouldn't turn many to Mother Church. Sigh.

Fearfully and Wonderfully

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Scruton - Need for Beauty

Four Mass'keteer friend, mentor, and popularizer of the work of René Girard, Gil Bailie, has a fine presentation of Roger Scruton's series on the philosophical and human need for beauty here.

Holy Family

The Holy Family (1506) - Michelangelo

Reflection for Feast of Holy Family Year C

By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB

TORONTO, DEC. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- In the afterglow of Christmas, the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family, inviting the faithful to reflect on the gift and mystery of life, and in particular the blessing of family.

[ ... ]

The words of Pope Paul VI spoken in Nazareth on Jan. 5, 1964, are a beautiful reflection on the mystery of Nazareth and of the Holy Family. His words inspire all of us to imitate God's family in their beautiful values of silence, family life and work.

He said: "Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ's life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder the simple appeal of the way God's Son came to be known, profound yet full of hidden meaning.

"And gradually we may even learn to imitate him. Here we can learn to realize who Christ really is. And here we can sense and take account of the conditions and circumstances that surrounded and affected his life on earth: the places, the tenor of the times, the culture, the language, religious customs, in brief everything which Jesus used to make himself known to the world. [...]

"First we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset, as we are, by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God's inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God..More>>

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2nd Day of Christmas

Though in the closet there stands a sword
And the coif and vambraces and mail are oiled
To stave the ravages of rust and time,
The chivalrous work for now is the word
When corruption reeks and honor is spoiled
And the Gospel ignored, our treasure sublime.

A blessed second day of Christmas from the 4Ms

Friday, December 25, 2009

The League of Bearded Catholics

With the apparent demise of The Blue Boar - it's been a dead stick since the catastrophic events surrounding the notorious Four Men's Feast - I lift a tankard to a new star in the night sky. Tim Jones of Old World Swine puts forth what looks to be a fine new effort. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The League of Bearded Catholics.

T(olkien)he L(ewis)eague of B(elloc)earded C(hesterton)atholics stretches the imagination somewhat since only one of the four actually grew a beard for any sustained amount of time (Belloc), but all four had beards to shave, and Lewis never was a Catholic. (NB: Fr Walter Hooper, Lewis's executive secretary is quoted in Joseph Pearce's book, C. S. Lewis and the Catholic Church, to the effect that if Lewis were still alive, in his opinion, Lewis would be a Catholic today with the suspect faith and morality in the Anglican communion.)

Check it out.

Novak - The First (and Only) Enlightenment

A real keeper and for the record: Michael Novak's The First Enlightenment:
Those of us who are of Catholic mind do not believe that the Enlightenment began with Kant (“What is Enlightenment?”), or Locke or Newton, or even with Descartes. We cherish Plato, Aristotle, Cicero. But the first Enlightenment began with Christ Our Lord.

It was only with the Christ that EQUALITY meant every human being, barring none. From then on, no one was “barbarian.” Each bore in his own soul the mark of being called to be a dwelling of the Father and the Son — being called beyond all other calls a son of God. Neither mother nor father, neither civil society nor state, can answer to this call for you or me. None has any deeper bond or precedence than the relation of Creator and human creature. It is a bond of Spirit and Truth.

Thus was revealed each human's LIBERTY primordial, and in that liberty, EQUALITY with all. No other but self can say to the the Father “No,” or “Yes.” That choice is for each single one of us inalienable. That choice brings each into the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of all who are equal in the sight of God.

And that is how universal FRATERNITY became a human principle and an object of our striving.

Moreover, a singular feature of the coming of the Christ is that all have access to him — rich pagan kings riding from the East, Roman centurions (those who would put him to death, even they), Jew and Greek, and those of every nation, station, and state of virtue or of sin. From Bethlehem went out the message of the First Globalization — the global call to become one human family. But only by the narrow path of the free choice of each.

This was the First Enlightenment. There has been no deeper nor more all-embracing since..MORE>>

Merry Christmas

A blessed, joyous and peaceful Christmas to all
from the Four Mass'keteers!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dude's Flyin'

To understand This Love born unto us - which goes beyond our knowledge - we must comtemplate our violence

"...we have to think of Christianity as essentially historical, ... Solomon's judgment explains everything on this score: there is the sacrifice of the other, and self-sacrifice; archaic sacrifice and Christian sacrifice. However, it is all sacrifice. We are immersed in mimetism and have to find a way around the pitfalls of our desire, which is always desire for what the other possesses. I repeat, absolute knowledge is not possible. We are forced to remain at the heart of history and to act at the heart of violence because we are always gaining a better understanding of its mechanisms." pg 35, Battling to the End by René Girad

Listen and watch below and then reread René - at the heart of Father Barron's message is the explanation of the expulsion of the Other - violence.



To begin to grasp The Love that is freely given we must tear down our defenses, our violence which is always expelling the other. Violence, our violence is what This Love comes to heal.

Read René!

George Bailey @ the Nativity

ht: Mark Shea

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And then Hope

Franciscans - St. John the Baptist Province 150th Jubilee Videos




Check out the 150th Anniversary Series Archive
In 1209, POPE INNOCENT III approved a plan by Francis of Assisi for a new way of religious life. This year, Franciscans around the world are marking the Eighth Centenary of the founding of their Order. In 1859, the entity that became St. John the Baptist Province in Cincinnati was formally erected as a “custody.” This 12-part series, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the province, celebrates the lives and contributions of the friars.

Through me the way into the suffering city

On this eve of Christmas Eve, a sense of foreboding prevails among those who know what will be ram-rodded .. er, voted upon tomorrow on Capitol Hill. It is something so immense, so huge and hubris-filled, like King Herod and Caesar to the tenth power, that one can almost hear Stalin whispering, How many divisions does the Pope have?

In fact, it has a similar feeling tone as when this blunder (?) happened.

While Dante put defrauders of the commonweal in a particularly nasty circle of hell, the political elite who are accomplishing this piece of legislation are feeling a grand sense of pleasure and self-righteousness. Eternal reward or punishment by their standards of judgment are far removed from the Magisterium of the Church, even for rather higher-ups in the legislative society for mutual self-admiration.

They were elected. They enjoy the greatest power and glory afforded leaders in the free world. They are "progressive"; surely they know better than any reactionary ecclesiastical sticks-in-the-mud who flaunt Catholic truth, faith, and morals.

Right? Right?

Keillor - Don't Mess with Christmas

Well. O. Kay. Garrison Keillor, buddy, there's hope for you yet:

Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that's their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to rewrite "Silent Night." If you don't believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn "Silent Night" and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism and we Christians have stood for it long enough. And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write "Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we'll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah"? No, we didn't.

Christmas is a Christian holiday -- if you're not in the club, then buzz off. Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and falalaing until you fall down, eat figgy pudding until you puke, but don't mess with the Messiah.

Christmas does not need any improvements. It is a common ordinary experience that resists brilliant innovation. Just make some gingerbread persons and light three candles and sing softly in dim light about the poor man gathering winter fu-u-el and the radiant beams and the holly and the ivy, and you've got it. Too many people work too hard to make Christmas perfect, find the perfect gifts, get a turkey that reaches 100 percent of potential. Perfection is a goal of brilliant people and it is unnecessary where Christmas is concerned..Read all ...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gnostic American Reformation

You've probably seen it elsewhere, but here is Robert Samuelson's "A Parody of Leadership," a scathing indictment of not only the boondoggle of "health care reform" replete with taxpayer-supported abortuarial "health services" for women, but the leadership of our commander-in-chief.

While the liberal-elite's holy grail is "universal coverage," the bill will fall short of this, by Samuelson's estimation, and a great deal more besides.

The question is: why? Why the rush, why the clandestine still-of-the-night votes, the hundreds of millions of dollars to buy votes, the reckless idiocy?

Let's stop to think a moment of where our president came from. Has he ever worked in the private sector (does the university setting count? you choose), managed a business, worked beyond politics, paid employees and allotted benefits to them?

He's a sharp fellow, brilliant mind, shrewd politician. But all he knows is hand-me-downs the likes of which he is now working pall mall to provide for every American citizen.

It's a pipe dream. (Look how well it worked in Detroit.) It is a denial of the realities of human nature and anthropology. It is an affirmation of romantic Gnosticism and every absurdity of "let's all just hold hands and get along" ideology-driven secularism known to-date.

America. It's just about too late. Wake up.

Lest Ye Become as Little Children

You can never start them too early on practicing the virtues of Marian chivalry. Join ye our merrie band and may God bless your final few days of Advent through the motherly intercession of Mary, Help of Christians.

Girard, Conversion, Film, Culture

From Brussels Journal, Thomas F. Bertonneau writes,

When, a semester or two ago, my department chair asked me to teach the local version of the nowadays-pervasive “popular culture” course, I consented with some mild misgivings and, as I like to do, took a mostly historical approach to course-content. I have no investment in contemporary popular culture, the wretchedness of it striking me as consummate. My students, for their part, being morbidly, continuously immersed in contemporary popular culture, require no one, really, to acquaint them with it. At least they require no one to tutor them in it directly, since it regrettably is their ubiquitous and hortatory guide and cue-giver for all facets of life. But one might apprise them about the insipidity of existing mass-entertainment indirectly by putting it in contrast with the popular entertainments of the past, including the classic films that most of them have never seen and, more importantly, would never seek out on their own. One film that I showed to students was the Errol Flynn vehicle The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), directed by Michael Curtiz. Another one, not so well known as Robin Hood, was the Roger Livesey/Wendy Hiller vehicle I Know Where I’m Going (1945), directed by Michael Powell (1905-1990).

In respect of The Adventures of Robin Hood, I have remarked in an article [here], for MediaHope, how one of the strongest recommending features of Curtiz’s superbly mounted medieval epic is that, at its heart, the film tells a moving conversion story – actually a pair of them, Marian’s and Robin’s, that the screenwriters skillfully intertwine. In the same article I reiterated critic René Girard’s argument that all effective narrative turns on plausible conversion and that reading itself is a type of conversion experience. If Girard’s point were valid for written narrative then why would it not likewise be so for film? Like Curtiz’s Robin Hood, Powell’s I Know Where I’m Going tells a conversion story, brilliantly, and uses it to make a profound filmic critique of the crassness that pervades modern life. I should add that in neither instance is it a case of religious conversion but rather of something subtler..More>>

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lo, How a Rose

ht: Anchoress

VOCATION spelled Franciszkanie



Unikatowy filmik ukazujący życie franciszkanów z prowincji św. Franciszka z Asyżu. Muzyka w tle to utwór pt. "Trójca" seminaryjnego zespołu Greccio.

VOCATION - in sound and pictures

If you don't understand Polish thats okay - VOCATION

What does the Lord do in the face of all we have brought upon ourselves?



From (Father) Julián Carrón President of the Fraternity of Communion & Liberation

What does the Lord do in the face of all we have brought upon ourselves? ...

Benedict did not face the end of the Roman Empire with anger, pointing the finger at the immorality of his contemporaries, but rather witnessed to the people of his time a fullness of life, a satisfaction and a fullness that became an attraction for many. This became the dawn of a new world, small as it was (almost a nonentity compared with the whole, a whole that was in total collapse), but a real world. That new beginning was so concrete that the work of Benedict and Francis has lasted through the centuries, has transformed Europe, and humanized it.

"He has revealed himself. He personally," said Benedict XVI, speaking of the God-with-us. Fr. Giussani told us, "That man of two thousand years ago is hidden under the tent, under the appearance of a new humanity," in a real sign that arouses the inkling of that life that we are all waiting for so as not to succumb to the evil in us and to the signs of the nothingness which is advancing. This is the hope that Christmas announces to us, and that makes us cry out: "Come, Lord Jesus!"

History is a test for humankind and WE are failing that test...



I just got my copy of Battling to the End. Athos, what were the publishers thinking, there are no pictures! Can the modern reader get through the average text without pictures?

Seriously ...

Girard: "Just look at the apocalyptic times we are living in, ... a time where we no longer can tell the difference - is it nature or is it man helping out the apocalyptic forces?"

Here is where I suggest pulling out your copy of Banished from Eden by Raymund Schwager.

Why do people, even Christians not take Christianity seriously?


"Very few people take Christianity seriously." WHY? WHY?

Coming up on to the 4th Sunday of Advent, what is the significance of this?


Rene Girard, author of works published in more than two dozen languages, including The Scapegoat and Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World, describes the triangular structure of desire: object, model, and subject.

As we beg, "Give us new life!" we know that in Mary's maternal presence our prayer is already being answered. (from The Magnificat Sunday Dec 20th)

Don't you get it?...whether Roman Empire or MSM... we must look for the Truth


Athos, is ANYONE out there? is ANYONE looking for the Truth?

Trailer = Caravan, 007 Style

You know, it's snowing outside - hard. 12"-20" predicted. How I long for those sunny, summer vacations pulling our pop-up trailer hither and yon. Perhaps you didn't know that for Brits, "trailers" are known as "caravans." Sadly, the Top Gear boys have been on a single-handed crusade to rid the roadways of England of said caravans, destroying them with wanton glee in various and sundry ways.

Okay, fair enough. They can't picture a Ferrari pulling a Coleman camper. I won't eschew their taste. Perhaps we can strike a compromise. Get the "caravan" to the campground by an unique and scenic method, AND have the hot car to drive once we get there.

The below video is a tribute to such ingenuity.

Born of Hope

Of all the film projects surrounding the epic sub-creation of
J. R. R. Tolkien, my favorites are those still in production via Actorsatworkproductions.com, Kate Madison, Producer. These works of love are available solely on-line.


The latest, and best, Born of Hope, in words from the website is "a 60 minute Lord of the Rings inspired film being produced in the UK. A low budget production, the entire cast and crew are giving their services for no financial gain. The subject matter and quality has attracted people from around the world to join the team, even gaining support and interest from some of the original New Line Trilogy cast and crew members including Richard Taylor and the Oscar® winning team at Weta Workshop, New Zealand."

To view Born of Hope, go here. (Click on subtitles; the soundtrack is iffy.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'll Stick with 'Fishers of Men'

ht: Borderline Sociopathic Blog for Boys

Qoheleth to Christ - The Need for Today

Monsignor Charles Pope, quoting from Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes chapter 12, gives A Biblical Meditation on Old Age. Don't look for any upbeat, "old age and death are a small thing" here. Qoheleth is the quintessential curmudgeon.

Michael Ward in his superb and important book on Lewis's
Chronicles of Narnia, Planet Narnia, explicates C. S. Lewis's use of medieval cosmology to understand not merely literary goings-on, but current events. Lewis would call Qoheleth's musings "saturnocentric" - an allusion to the oldest and farthest from the sun planet (in the cosmology of the Middle Ages): "astringent, stern, tough, unmerry, uncomfortable, unconciliatory, and serious."

But, for the follower of Christ, Qoheleth like Saturn, does not carry the final say-so. One might say that following the path of "progressive revelation," "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity" is neither the last word nor does it sit, ultimately, enthroned.

According to Ward, Lewis was "impatient with clerical bromides about death being a small thing." In
The Last Battle, Lewis not only gave Saturn full sway, killing off all the characters - including all of the Pevensie children (sans Susan who wasn't present), but Narnia itself draws to a close, with the last king of Narnia, Tirian, experiencing a searing abandonment and desolation. Aslan does not come. The young, final king experiences what Lewis called "The highest condition of the Human Will ...

... when, not seeing God, not seeming itself to grasp Him at all, it yet holds Him fast.

While not diminishing the pain and suffering of loss and death, Lewis objected to what he called "The Promethean Fallacy in Ethics" - a fallacy he found in every "good atheist"; namely, the criticism or defiance that such a person hurls at an apparently ruthless and idiotic cosmos
is really an unconscious homage to something in or behind that cosmos which he recognizes as infinitelhy valuable and authoritative: for if mercy and justice were really only private whims of his own with no objective and impersonal roots, and if he realised this, he could not go on being indignant. The fact that he arraigns heaven itself for disregarding them means that at some level of his mind he knows they are enthroned in a higher heaven still ('De Futilitate', EC)
In Lewis's model of the universe, there is standing room for bleakness, but no throne. Saturn may visit, but may not usurp the crown. This is what lay behind Lewis's criticism of Eliot, Thackery, and others. Not that they lifted up the saturnine, but they did not go beyond it; for them, Qoheleth was the stopping place. For Lewis, "of Saturn we know more than enough, but who does not need to be reminded of Jove?" Or, as Ward says, "In The Last Battle, Lewis subjects his sub-creation to full Saturnine dominance, only for it to yield new Joviality. His work manifests 'the almost crushed (but for that very reason arch-active) imagination.'

While the Dwarfs are irremediably saturnocentric, carrying their prison with them - as frightening an affirmation of the freedom of will to reject Grace if ever there was one - the friends of Narnia rejoin and fly, run, and swim along the beam of "cosmic eucatastrophe" -
further in and higher up! - following Dante (Lewis's favorite poet) into Joy.

This is where we leave the dark Advent lands of Saturn, and Qoheleth, aiming ever for the realm of angelic voices, Love descending, the Word made flesh, the works of charity, of Resurrection and Ascension.

Jove: Lewis's medieval template for God's Kingdom woven through the Narnia Chronicles; the archetypal mask of the Spirit of Christ so absolutely needful today in the "saturnocentric" West.

And, of course, from a mortal perspective that is what this little book is all about, too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Once More into the Breach

Anne Barbeau Gardiner, a Contributing Editor of the NOR, is Professor Emerita of English at John Jay College of the City University of New York. She reviews Cultures of Abortion in Weimar Germany. By Cornelie Usborne. Berghahn Books. 284 pages.
...one might conclude that the road to Hitler was paved with abortions. The Weimar Republic was a society committing suicide in slow motion. It could neither stop the killing of its unborn children nor control the degrading hedonism that accompanied this practice. In retrospect, one might call Weimar a very weak form of the culture of death, a preview of what now prevails in much of the Western world. It was so weak it easily caved in when confronted with a fiercer form of that same culture. For even under the Nazis the slaughter of the unborn continued. Hitler was gung-ho for eugenic abortion, and while he made abortion virtually inaccessible for German women of supposedly superior "stock," he legalized it and sometimes made it (along with sterilization) compulsory for women of what he called "inferior races." Thus did an enervated society cave in to a mad tyrant. Thus did Weimar's "cultures of abortion" usher in the Holocaust. Perhaps we should take warning..More>>
In The Killing Fields, there is a moment when Dith Pran, the trusty wingman of Sydney Schanberg, having escaped his captors stands dumbfounded, up to his ankles in decaying human flesh and bones: the mad, murderous violence of the Khmer Rouge.

In the same way, in the sane lucidity proffered by faith and reason of Mother Church, one comes to a moment of standing dumbfounded by the sheer magnitude of the abortuarial madness of today's global "civilization". It makes one want to throw in the towel, almost. And it certainly makes sense of stories like this.

But having faced my mortality (and yours), as well as the hope for the future of many young parents, one needs to sally forth - once more into the breach, as young King Hal admonished.

After all Domine, ad quen ibimus?



Aaliyah

Say hello to my new, and first, granddaughter, Aaliyah Teresa. Welcome, dear heart. Welcome.

Just a Reminder

I am constantly updating my A Little Guide for Your Last Days blogsite as I find wonderful new offerings on the meaning of suffering, loss, death, and the last four things. I strongly recommend that you save its address under "Reality Check."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Slaying the Negativity of the MSM - BXVI

Well, I was hoping Aramis might take up the baton and write for the 2,000th post here at the 4M's. But Mark Shea linked to an offering from the Holy Father that I can't resist, via NCRegister:
On the feast of the Immaculate Conception yesterday, the Holy Father had some stern words on the role of the mass media in our everyday lives in this information age:

“Every day, in the newspapers, television and radio, evil is told to us, said again, amplified, so that we get used to the most horrible things and become desensitized,” Pope Benedict XVI said at the Spanish Steps in Rome. “In a certain way, it poisons us, because the negative is never fully cleansed out of our system but accumulates day after day. The heart hardens, and thoughts become gloomy. For this reason, the city needs Mary, whose presence speaks of God, reminds us of grace’s victory over sin, and makes us hope even in the humanly most difficult situations.”

The Pope also spoke about the sensationalism of mass-media news and the undignified way the individuals involved are often treated: “They make it to the front page of newspapers or the top of TV newscast — they are exploited until the end, for as long as the news and the images are newsworthy. Few can resist such a perverse mechanism. The city first hides, then exposes them to public scrutiny, without pity or with false pity. Everyone would like to be accepted as a person and considered as something sacred, because each human story is a sacred story that deserves the utmost of respect.”
More here.
For the uninitiate, the Holy Father is decrying the recrudescent influence of what I will simply call paganism into the minds and hearts of even the faithful today through the MSM. (René Girard's "primitive sacred" is congruent to paganism, but must be clearly understood in an anthropological sense unlike the way "sacred" is used by Benedict XVI above.)

God guard and rest your soul during these darkening days of Advent. "Let not your hearts be troubled; neither let them be afraid," said Our Lord. And also, "In this world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."

Full agreement with the Holy Father. Forget that at your peril.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gaudete @ Holy Comforter - St Cyprian's

Monsignor Charles Pope talks about the building that is NOT on "the tour" through Washington, D. C. here. It is highly appropriate on this Gaudete Sunday - check out his attached video if you want your share of joy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Riding Through Advent

A strong suggestion, all loyal and doughty men-at-arms who pledge fealty to the once and future King of kings and Lord of lords: Pick thee up a copy of Michael Ward's new book, Planet Narnia.

As Ward explicates and guides one through the planetary cosmology of C. S. Lewis - based squarely in the Christian literary tradition of the Middle Ages - one is startled by the extraordinary hermeneutical power of Lewis's use of the planets to describe the taxonomy of our age. (Hint: the West in its sub-lunary sphere is caught in Saturnine doldrums - old age, death, decay. It must up and come again under the Jovial influence of arms swinging, winter-past, sins forgiven, and hearts' ease.)

One needn't muddy Lewis's interpretation with mimetic theory. You will see what I mean.

Meanwhile, ride on, readers of the Mass'keteers! Ride on through Advent to the birth of our rightful King.

Safe School Czar - NOT

The frog has boiled and needs to be flushed if our "Safe Schools Czar" isn't given the heave ho. ht: Gil Bailie @ Reflections on Faith and Culture

So what tune is playing in your head?

From The Magnificat for Friday December 11:
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we are asked to choose which gift we really want. Will we welcome God's gift of his Son as the source of life, or will we drift to the tune of whatever music is played in the marketplace, until, rootless, we wither and die in the desert?
"The more God wishes to bestow on us, the more does he make us desire" (Saint John of the Cross). The great sin of the crowds whom Christ calls "this generation" is that, while being cynical and critical, they lack any meaningful desire. The Lord God promises, "If you would hearken to my commandments your prosperity would be like a river," for those commandments reawaken in us the desire that draws us to God.

Fr Barron - Catholicism Project

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Baa, Mr. President, Baa

Our president is a man of rare qualities and abilities. If one notices, one never sees him contradict claims that he is carrying out a reformation of the United States of America. It is a reformation away from the norms and mores what used to be called the "silent majority." Today, the mandarins of hope and change do not consider it a silent majority, but a helpless if not hapless majority.

It is majority that does not know what is good for it. Or, rather, its values, faith, morals, and goals do not stand in the way of the agenda being laid out for it by the oligarchs presently in power, the president being the chief exemplar of this reformation. They are ignorable because they are, in the president and his ilk's estimation, ignorant of a progressive future known by the elite, and, therefore, must be superseded because and in spite of their sheepish foolishness.

What he, the president, does not know is that the majority of Americans are indeed sheep, and willingly admit it. They will, in fact, admit that our president is also a sheep. The profoundly large electorate has not forgotten that from the most powerful commander-in-chief on Pennsylvania Avenue to the short-order chef in Adams Morgan all have an absolute and irrevocable need for a Good Shepherd.

The wisdom of this majority of Americans runs deeper in the collective psyche of the Christian West than the commander-in-chief will either admit or presuppose in the progressive agenda he propounds and is pounding into legislation. The taxation of the American majority to pay for abortion murder of unborn Americans is probably the most tell-tale ritual of the dumb-as-a-sheep agenda.

Good Shepherd, forgive our leaders for veering so far into the culture of death. Forgive us for electing them into power. Come help us, your sheep and our president who needs shearing. Amen.

Waiting - Advent

Forgive the overlap:

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Honeyyyyyyy

Which of the Mass'keteers had a spot of trouble stringing Christmas lights this year? Okay, okay. I hope none of us. It's just a clever decoration ... it's not real ... I hope. ht: Maggie's farm

2010 The Beauty of Faith, The Beauty of Saints, or The Beauty of Life Calendars


The 2010 Beauty of ... calendars are here. Ann, my wife, did a another great job, photographing the flowers to creating the pictures in a calendar setting, perfect for any desk or bookcase (4"x 6"). The calendars are $12 with $2 of that going to St. Mary's "Front Door" ministry which helps those who are in need that come to the rectory. These make great stocking stuffers. Email me today and get your order in before Christmas is upon us.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The Immaculate Conception (1618-19) - Diego Velázquez

Commentary by Fr. James Schall here

Monday, December 07, 2009

New Pagans Within the Gates

Kevin Ryan at Mercatornet describes a recent visit to Paris:
As we walked out to the sidewalk, the streets literally exploded with roaring cars and trucks packed with young Algerians screaming at the top of their lungs at one another and at the watching bystanders. Horns were blaring at ear-splitting volume. Rockets and firecrackers flew from car windows. From at least every other car there was a huge Algerian flag or an Islamic banner with a green crescent and star. There were so many cars that quickly the traffic jammed and the young French Algerians ran from car to car shouting at one another in sheer joy.

The automobile caravans brought to mind the spontaneous celebrations I witnessed in my suburban New York village at the end of World War II (yes, I am that old!), but it was a sedate event compared with this outpouring of intensity and energy. Clearly, these young French young men and women have deep and alive Algerian roots. While the celebration was loud and long, going on for a good four hours, it was, by and large, joyous. The gendarme sat in their cars, observing, but ready. And as the honking motorcade roared past the older citizens, passively observing from cafés and a street side restaurants, these newer French seemed to be sending a message. “We are here. And here to stay. It is no longer your Christian France. Get used to it”..Read all ...

While this makes grim reading during the darkening days of Advent, I wish I might say it is merely the youth of the Scimitar who are acting out in such pagan fashion. Truth is, we are witnessing the death of a culture premised not on Judeo-Christian ethics and faith, but one posited on the Doric pillars of democracy - the result of the sacrifice of kings, as per the keen insight of Robert Hamerton-Kelly - but which harkens back much further to the sacrificial origins of democracy per se in ancient Greece.

The "bait and switch" took place in the 16th century during the rise of the pagan cloaked in the Enlightenment, so-called. With what Hillaire Belloc called "the new money" taking control of the lands, monasteries, and system of subsidiarity of the Catholic Church came the usurpation of any hope for the continuation of Christendom. The Counter-Reformation yielded huge harvest, but the "powers and principalities" of England, the Netherlands, even France would not willingly turn that Mammon once gained back to control of the Church.

They sowed the wind. We are now reaping the whirlwind of the downfall of the West.

All we can look forward to in the foreseeable future is shrinking outposts of truth, goodness, and beauty; the grandest and strongest is the Catholic Church, Peter's Barque, against which Our Lord promised the gates of hell shall not prevail (Mtt 16).

But alone and without recourse to Her sacramental grace, He warns, "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters" (Lk 11,23).

Let those with ears to hear, hear.

Insights with René Girard

Link HERE
Insights with Rene Girard: Chapter 1 of 5
Rene Girard describes the triangular structure of desire — object, model, and subject.
More here

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Cantalamessa - Priests Called to BE

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Priests must be servants of Christ, not in the sense that they do acts of service, but that their identity is that of a servant, says the preacher of the Pontifical Household.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said this today during his first Advent reflection for Benedict XVI and members of the Roman Curia.

The Capuchin said that in this Year for Priests, he would dedicate both his Advent and Lent reflections to the topic of the priesthood, trying "if possible, to make our priestly heart vibrate on contact with some Word of God."

The preacher reflected on the priestly calling: "'Servants of Christ!' -- with the exclamation mark to indicate the greatness, dignity and beauty of this title. [...] We are not speaking here of practical and ministerial services, how to administer the word and the sacraments [...] in other words, we are not speaking of the service as act, but of service as state, as essential vocation and as identity of the priest and we speak of it in the same sense and with the same spirit of Paul who at the beginning of his letters always introduces himself thus: 'Paul, servant of Christ Jesus, apostle by vocation.'

"On the invisible passport of the priest, the one with which he presents himself every day in the presence of God and of his people, to the call 'profession,' one should be able to read: 'Servant of Jesus Christ.' All Christians of course are servants of Christ [...] but the ordained minister is so in a title and sense that is different and higher." More>>

Friday, December 04, 2009

Handel and the Beatles

Handel's Messiah. An Advent and Christmas fixture. Every song a hit. What was it like during its premiere years? I heard Robert Shaw once say that Handel's composing it in a fortnight would be like the Beatles sitting down and writing all of their greatest hits in the same amount of time.

Here from Smithsonian.com:
[ht: Maggie's Farm]
George Frideric Handel's Messiah was originally an Easter offering. It burst onto the stage of Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742. The audience swelled to a record 700, as ladies had heeded pleas by management to wear dresses "without Hoops" in order to make "Room for more company." Handel's superstar status was not the only draw; many also came to glimpse the contralto, Susannah Cibber, then embroiled in a scandalous divorce.

The men and women in attendance sat mesmerized from the moment the tenor followed the mournful string overture with his piercing opening line: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God." Soloists alternated with wave upon wave of chorus, until, near the midway point, Cibber intoned: "He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." So moved was the Rev. Patrick Delany that he leapt to his feet and cried out: "Woman, for this be all thy sins forgiven thee!" More>>

Dawn Eden - Fatherhood

Our friend and modern-day St. Joan of Arc, Dawn Eden, while busily working toward her Masters degree in theology, also finds time to post at a gig called "Headline Bistro." Her most recent offering is a topic near to the hearts of the Mass'keteers:

Authority Conjoined with Love

The Meaning of Fatherhood in Heaven ... And on Earth (Part 1)

by Dawn Eden

In this day and age when best-selling “new atheist” authors, as Mark Shea notes, spend their time “pointing out to us childish believers that God is not an old man sitting on a cloud,” it is instructive to note that that there is nothing particularly new, let alone creative, about attacks on the fatherhood of God.

I recently discovered a 1934 radio address by the Rev. Daniel A. Lord, S.J., in which the great Jesuit author said, “If ours is an unhappy generation, it is largely because it is a generation that has forgotten Our Father Who is in Heaven.” Modern atheists, he added, sought to make the human race “a family without a father.”

Seventy-five years later, that phrase has an additional meaning that would have chilled Father Lord. A “family without a father” is exactly what the average American human family has become. As my former colleague Patrick Fagan of Family Research Council noted a few years ago, some 60 percent of U.S. children will experience the breakup of their parents before they turn 18. (Given the recent uptick in out-of-wedlock births, that number is probably even higher today).

Is there a connection between attacks on the fatherhood of God and the decline of human fatherhood? Pope John Paul II thought so, writing in his 1995 book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, “Original sin attempts ... to abolish fatherhood ... leaving man only with a sense of the master/slave relationship.”

Read all here.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Song of the Body of Christ

Hahn - BXVI's Biblical Theology

For ye old record: Fellow convert and sound theologian, Francis Beckwith highly recommends Scott Hahn's book on the biblical theology of Pope Benedict XVI, Covenant and Communion. It may be purchased at Amazon here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent thought

Christmas will soon be upon us. The year ends in a flurry of shopping, even during stressful economic times. Advent helps us see the need to pause and contemplate the deep and magnificent meaning of the Incarnation: that God, in a supreme act of Self-emptying love, became poor for us, entering fully into our flawed humanity in order that we could have the chance to enter more fully into God’s perfect divinity.

The primary motivation for God’s incarnation is God’s goodness, not human sinfulness. The Incarnation is a dynamic expression of God’s overflowing love and mercy, as well as a revelation of God’s poverty and humility. Through the Incarnation we find redemption and completion, making it the heart of all reality.

Christmas is a time for us to see more clearly our own poverty and weakness in order to better receive the gift of God’s transforming love. Christmas is a time for us to emulate, as best we can, God’s love and goodness by sharing the mercy and compassion we have experienced through our lived experience of Christ’s birth in the stable of our humble hearts. - Gerald Straub, SFO

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saint Ambrose - Veni Redemptor Gentium

Kudos and hat tip to Monsignor Charles Pope (click here for his commentary)for this gem of an Advent carol. Saint Ambrose's Veni Redemptor Gentium:

  • Come, thou Redeemer of the earth,
  • Come testify thy virgin birth:
  • All lands admire, all times applaud:
  • Such is the birth that fits our God.

  • Forth from his chamber goeth he,
  • That royal home of purity,
  • A giant in twofold substance one,
  • Rejoicing now his course to run.

  • The Virgin’s womb that glory gained,
  • Its virgin honor is still unstained.
  • The banners there of virtue glow;
  • God in his temple dwells below.

  • From God the Father he proceeds,
  • To God the Father back he speeds;
  • Runs out his course to death and hell,
  • Returns on God’s high throne to dwell.

  • O Equal to thy Father, thou!
  • Gird on thy fleshly mantle now;
  • The weakness of our mortal state
  • With deathless might invigorate.

  • Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
  • And darkness breathe a newer light,
  • Where endless faith shall shine serene,
  • And twilight never intervene.

  • All laud, eternal Son, to thee
  • Whose advent sets thy people free,
  • Whom with the Father we adore,
  • And Holy Ghost, for evermore.

Weigel - Natural Law

For the record: George Weigel's important article, The Natural law= bigotry? Please.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ars Moriendi - Art of Dying

Daniel Mitsui has an impeccable gift for finding images of truth, goodness, and beauty. All this month he has lifted up primarily images centered on the 'Dance of Death' from art around Christendom in honor of November - the Month of the Holy Souls.

It is timely and apt that he share the following as the month now rapidly draws to a close. Namely, Ars Moriendi - The Art of Dying. From Emile Mâle:
The Ars moriendi is the work of a monk or priest who had seen many people die. In this little book we have the somber experience of a man who had collected together many last words, barely spoken... The text was often striking, but it was the astonishing woodcuts above all that spread its fame throughout Europe. Here it is indeed a question of Christian hopes and fears: death appears not as a farcical dance, but as a serious drama played around the bed of the dying man; angel and devil stand at his side, contending for the soul that will soon depart. Formidable moment! The Christian needed to know in advance the temptations and anguish of the terrible dark hours to come in order to learn how to triumph over them... The dying man is exposed to five principal temptations. God, however, does not abandon the Christian, and five times sends His angel to comfort him.
For all of Mitsui's post, see here. For a contemporary effort for modern denizens who are in need of a guide to dying a holy death, see here.

White - Sola Gratia, Solo Christo

For the record: over at fellow convert, Francis Beckwith's blog - Robert A. White's Sola Gratia, Solo Christo: The Roman Catholic Doctrine of Justification.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thank goodness Thanksgiving Day is over & we can get back to our worship

Driving to mass early this morning I was met with throngs of cars jamming the byways all leading to the big-box stores. It gives you wonder... no, it is not wonder anymore for the reality of what really matters to the vast majority of us is plain as the fight at the head of the line to get in the store first. Viewing our (as a 'mob' or 'public') actions through the lens of mimetic theory one begins to realize the power of mimetic contagion.

The Muppet's sing this song in such a way as it seems a match for Black Friday... from Animal morning Mama and Dada as they have left him alone so they can shop big box store... to Miss Piggy summing up our passion, "nothing really matters, nothing really matters, but ... anyway the wind blows..."



Happy day AFTER turkey day (or another way of describing the day - thank goodness Thanksgiving day 1s over and we can get on with what we love).

Veggie Tale

Fellow convert, Francis Beckwith, tells of Doug Groothuis's gentle admonishment of that High Poobah of public discourse, NPR, here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, Darnit

ht: Creative Minority Report

Giving Thanks - George Washington



While the above photos from George Washington's Mount Vernon have nothing to do with our Thanksgiving holiday per se, in another significant way they do. I defy anyone to visit the General's estate on the banks of the Potomac River in northern Virginia and not feel a near inexpressible and profound sense of gratitude for the vision of the Founding Fathers.

Whereas both England and France fell into regicide and, the latter, into genocide in their march toward democracy, Washington and his notable contemporaries led the fledgling United States to something nearly unique in world history.


By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Geo. Washington, President

Give thanks. Enjoy: A History of Celebrating Thanksgiving in America.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Anxious and Worried about Many Things

Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

- Lk 10:38-42