Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Witnesses = Martyrs

First Martyrs of the Church of Rome (d. 68)

Lord, make me more like 'Anna'

If you want to understand the central message of my book, A Little Guide for Your Last Days, here it is:
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's visit last Sunday to San Giovanni Rotondo, where Padre Pio is buried, served to disclose the meaning of pain, a Vatican spokesman affirmed.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, noted in his weekly editorial on the Vatican Television program "Octava Dies," the "unforgettable" witness made by a woman named Anna who greeted the Pontiff during the daytrip.

"The Pope's travels are not only important because of what the Pope says and does, but also because of the sentiments and words that they stir up [in others]," the spokesman said.

Anna met the Holy Father at the entrance of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home to Relieve Suffering), established by St. Pio of Pietrelcina, popularly known as Padre Pio.

"I didn’t ask myself, 'Why me?'" she told the Pope, when recounting how she reacted to a diagnosis of cancer. "But instead I said to myself, 'Why not me?'"

She said that she would pray, "God, what plan do you have for me?"

"Like the Virgin and so many other worthy and holy people," continued Anna, "I didn’t want to rebel, but wanted to say: 'Here I am. I'm ready.'"
Read more here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

BXVI - Adult Faith

Breathe some fresh air wafted from the high regions of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

Yesterday evening Pope Benedict XVI said,
"Speaking against the Magisterium of the Church is presented as courageous. In reality, however, it does not take courage for this, since you can always be sure of audience applause."

"Rather it takes courage to adhere to the faith of the Church, even if it contradicts the 'scheme' of the contemporary world," said the Pope. "It is this non-conformism of the faith that Paul calls an 'adult faith.'"
Read all of It is a Childish Faith to Oppose the Church Teaching on Life and Family.

Sts Paul and Peter

Two Scholars Disputing (Peter and Paul) - Rembrandt

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hope amid the ruins

The countryside of Tolkien and the south country of Belloc are gone. The workmen of Belbury are ubiquitous, slovenly, leering, and filthy-mouthed. The inns are torn down. The shrieking, bizarre foes of Christendom - and of Catholic truth - accost her relentlessly and gleefully, the darlings of mainstream media cameras.

Where is the place for men - and sons - to stand among the ruins?

At the Altar
And there, kneel,
Pledging fealty and fidelity
To the Once and Future
King of kings and Lord of lords.

Marriage and Family - First Things

I posted a longer essay on the Public Square blog, the front window of the First Things site. Marriage, I contend is not a “right,” but a condition, an “estate,” as the Book of Common Prayer says it is: a human mating pair attains the condition of marriage by entering a holy congregation as bridge and groom, uniting the reproductive activity of man and woman with the eschatological hope for eternal life of the faith community. We fight off death in two ways: by raising children, and by expectation of salvation. Marriage unites both of these into a single condition. It uniquely fulfills our human nature, our need for eternal life. Without holy matrimony the human race will die, as portions of it already are dying in countries whence faith has been banished.

[ ... ]

This may be the first time in Western history in which the sacred foundation of society, whose irreducible fundamental unit is the family, faces explicit opposition. If militant secularism succeeds in banishing the sacred from social life, we will lose heart and perish, as the tragic victims of communism are perishing. There is nothing to be done for the infertile, aging peoples of the former Soviet empire. The best thing one can do for them is not to be like them. Secular Western Europe already has one foot in the demographic grave. If we lose the sacred in the United States, we will follow them into Sheol. We might as well make a stand now over the sacred character of marriage, because there is nowhere to fall back from here.

- David P. Goldman is associate editor of First Things.

New Catholic Manliness

(A) funny thing happened on the way to a testosterone-free Church, beginning perhaps in the early 1980s: Following a trail blazed first by Evangelical Protestants, in what appears to be part of another historical correction, manly Catholicism — chastened and wiser — began to make a modest comeback. Let us look at some examples of Catholic manhood's counter-offensive, how it is manifesting itself in different areas of Church life, and what it may mean for its future.

"Where did it begin? Right in the bosom of the family," says Tarek Saab, founder of Lionheart Apparel ...

Read all of The New Catholic Manliness.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Little Reality Check

If you are not only looking for a good non-fiction summer read, but a "reality check" and small book of life lessons, click to your upper right on A Little Guide for Your Last Days (see it up there? click on the image). Cheers, and God bless!


Saint Matthew and the Angel (1602) - Caravaggio

Light Shining in Darkness

A Corpus Christi Procession winds through a post-modern, dumbed-down suburb, proclaiming the miracle of the Eucharist. Note well the catholic - universal - nature of the participants. They come from every race and ethnic group. [ht: Curt Jester]

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Come Home Out of the Storm

It becomes increasingly apparent that as the sacrificial vortex tightens and increases its velocity that the shreds of a Christ-haunted West will soon be totally unrecognizable. Our commander-in-chief while trying to maintain an above-the-fray mien is merely the froth on the cauldron; meaning, his leadership is a microcosm of the vortex itself. The professorial aloofness may be calming, but it bespeaks the professional priest-class nature of leadership he has assumed. In terms of the primitive sacred, let that last sentence sink in with every possible meaning.

And a host of special interests - from Greens/climate changers to ACORN types - claim prestige and therefore power. None claim truth, however. The vortex doesn't allow for truth; only prestige and power.

But please believe me on this: I do not question their sincerity, just their shamelessness. Every merely human utopian project has ended ... badly.

If persons want to reclaim anthropological (who we are as persons imago dei), epistemological (a grasp of real truth and certitude), ontological (a knowledge of our source and being, God), and soteriological (the Way of eternal salvation) mooring while living in the time of such cultural meltdown, there is only one place to find it.

Stinkin' Luciferian Thinkin'

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Scouting Sans Mischief

Things are getting so absolutely crazy, I am glad that I was a Boy Scout, Troop #69, Elkhart, Indiana.

Be Prepared is our Scouting motto. I have survived a Brown Bear attack (or encounter - it drew blood) at Philmont National Scout Ranch. I have a bow saw (MUCH better than a hand ax, trust me on this) and all the skills proffered by Scouting.

If you haven't whittled, started a fire, slept chin up under the stars, done your duty to God and to country, more's the pity.

After the Whirlwind, the Still Small Voice

My last post at Chronicles might have been misleading. It would be wrong to think that the analytical psychology of Carl G. Jung is a monolithic hermeneutical instrument (the personal unconscious work is fine; the collective unconscious hypothesis is balderdash at best, demonic at worst).

In truth, C. S. Lewis grasped President I Won more inclusively in his stupendously prescient work That Hideous Strength. Think of Lord Feverstone but wayy out of his depth - a functional atheist/pragmatist who is an astute politician and practitioner of the ways of the world.

What he and his ilk - and, I might add, the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran - do not factor in is a divine justice that is strictly and manifestly vouchsafed by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Men's hearts and minds are changed from within, not by the power and force of the state or the primitive sacred ("that hideous strength"). This the Christian faith knows. This is the truth that sets men free. This and this alone.

I would say, if I were given the occasion: Mr. President, "there are more things in Heaven and Earth [...] Than are dream't of in your (political) philosophy."

Why Do We Celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist?

In this month’s issue of Magnificat, Father Peter John Cameron, OP, provides a great litany for why we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist.

The nativity of Saint John the Baptist is a sacred reminder of the fact that I need born in my life every day:

* someone who leaps with joy before the presence of the Lord making me want to live my own relationship with Jesus with greater ardor and fervor;

* someone to prepare the way of the Lord and to give me knowledge of salvation through forgiveness of my sins;

* someone who turns my attention away from my distractions and preconceptions so that I will behold the Lamb of God as the true desire of my heart;

* someone who models for me that there is no greater joy in my life than for Jesus to increase and for me to decrease, especially as regards my self-reliance, my self-assertion, my self-importance;

* someone who is a burning and shining lamp whose radiance gives light to my path and courage to my heart, making me want to live for others;

* someone so committed to the truth that he is willing to lay down his life for the Truth-become-flesh - witnessing to me that all true happiness comes through self-sacrifice;

* someone whose sanctity proclaims that there is no man born of woman greater than he is but that I can share his greatness if I love Jesus as he did.

In the tender compassion of our God, the Dawn from on high has broken upon us through the birth of John the Baptist. - Father Peter John Cameron, OP

I read this over and over and found that each time re-reading I was identifying with yet another from Fr Cameron's list of reminders why I need born in my life and every day the birth of John the Baptist.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sts Thomas More and John Fisher

From his book Captive Flames, here are commemorative words about Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher:

St. Thomas More had no lack of plausible excuses if he had wanted to avoid the crown of martyrdom; no lack of sincere people who urged him to take refuge in them. Never, I suppose, was man so tempted both by friends and foes to abandon his purpose. His own wife, his own daughter took the part of his enemies, and entered into a loving conspiracy to save him from himself. But to friend and foe alike he opposed the impenetrable wall of his good-natured banter.

You see, he realized, long before other men of his time, that what stood before England was a complete parting of the ways. He saw that, in the conditions of his time, you must needs throw in your lot either with the old faith or with the heresies that were beginning to spring up all over Europe; that a nation which defied the authority of the Pope, although it might do so merely in the name of national independence, would be forced, sooner or later, into the camp of the heretic.

You see, he [More] realized, long before other men of his time, that what stood before England was a complete parting of the ways. He saw that, in the conditions o fhis time, you must needs throw in your lot either with the old faith or with the heresies that were beginning to spring up all over Europe; that a nation which defied the authority of the Pope, although it might do so merely in the name of national independence, would be forced, sooner or later, into the camp of the heretic. It is amazing to us, looking back upon all the intervening centuries have brought, that so many good men of that age – men who were afterwards confessors for the faith – were hoodwinked for the moment into following the King when he incurred the guilt of schism. But perhaps if were could think ourselves back rather more successfully into the conditions of the time, we should pardon them the more readily; and for that reason we should feel even greater admiration for the few men who, like our martyr, were wise enough to see what was happening. It was a time of national crisis, a time of intellectual ferment. There were only a few people who kept their heads, and those few who kept their heads lost their heads, like St. Thomas More.

… Let us thank God’s mercy for giving us the example and the protection of a great Saint, our own fellow-countryman, who knew how to absorb all that was best in the restless culture of his day, yet knew at once, when the time came, that he must make a stand here; that he must give no quarter to the modern world here. His remembrance has long been secure in the praise of posterity; it only remained for us to be assured by the infallible voice of the Church, what we could not doubt already, that he is with our Blessed Lady and the Saints in heaven. He knows our modern needs, let us turn to him in our modern troubles; his prayers will not be lacking for the great country he loved so, for the great city in which he lived and died. ...

Let us praise God, then, for our English martyrs, Thomas More and John Fisher and the Charterhouse monks, and, from Blessed Cuthbert Mayne onward, the long line of proscribed and hunted priests. Men of our blood, they have left sayings which ring more familiarly to us than the translated pieties of the Continent; men of our latter-day civilization, they stand our with more of human personality than the mist-wreathed heroes of the medieval world. And surely, if they have not forgotten among those delights of the eternity the soft outlines and the close hedgerows and the little hills of the island that gave them birth; if in contemplating the open face of God, they have not ceased to take thought for the well-loved kingdom that exiled and disowned them, the patiently evangelized people that condemned and hurried them to the gallows, their prayers still rise especially, among all the needs of a distracted world, for the souls we love whom error blinds or sin separates from God.

— Monsignor Ronald Knox, Captive Flames: On Selected Saints and Christian Heroes (Ignatius Press, 2001; originally published in 1940).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Beware the Doghouse

My favorite guy commercial. Forgive the overlap [ht: Mercatornet]

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Now the Green Blade Riseth (?)

Does anyone truly understand what is happening in post-presidential election Iran? Does this explain anything?

I think perhaps it does. What I see, on the one hand, is a huge public disappointment with the religious leaders who they believe - rightly or wrongly - abused the trust of the people, allowing an unfair, rigged election to occur. On the other hand, I see a plaintive effort to say to those religious leaders, "Play fair! Be the religious leaders we believed, we hoped you were and you can still be!"

C. S. Lewis posited for inspection his personal findings of versions of The Golden Rule in nearly all the writings of human civilization - Treat others they way you want to be treated. (Cf. The Abolition of Man)

In this way, it may be said, the Holy Spirit is not without witness in all the world, a blessed and holy seed of the Gospel that - sometimes - is only released in the fierce heat of a forest fire of tumult.

Now is such a time in Iran. Who could have foreseen it? Is President I Won right to assume a largely laissez fair attitude? Yes, I think so, bipartisan sniping and deconstruction aside. He sees what is happening; he is a politician. Grandstanding and waving the flag of democracy is cartoon-esque.

Let's see if the Holy Spirit will fan different flames than those of mere crowd contagion in Iran.

Dawn Patrol does Little Guide

Lady Dawn does a kind celebrity endorsement for crusty old Athos. Our latter-day St Joan of Arc champions a memento mori. Deo gratias. +

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fathers Day - Haul Him to Church

The New York Times had a nice, though odd, story the other day on a 13-year-old boy who's been dragging his dad to church. The father, Bob Sweeney, is a former Catholic monk who left the Xavierian order in the 1970s and later stopped attending church altogether.
"He probably just one day was watching a Mets game, said ‘I don't want to go to church' and just stopped going," his son, Ryan, says.
Ryan, on the other hand, "is a big reader, enjoys fantasy literature and has seen theories suggesting the world may end in 2013 due to the configuration of magnetic forces. In that case, he said, it would be nice to be on good terms with God."
Read all of Drag your Dad to church day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sacred Heart

Monastic art not just for the kell of it

Methinks it is time to take time on this Feast of the Sacred Heart of Our Lord to contemplate truth, goodness, and beauty. And where? Of all places, the New York Times with Roberta Smith's exquisite, Those Medieval Monks Could Draw.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Little Guide for Your Last Days

READ D'artagnan post HERE on Athos' new book that has just been released, A Little Guide for Your Last Days.

We will maintain the link to Athos' book on the right side bar of our blog for easy reference.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gotta go crazy sometimes

Happy Birthday Norene!

A. N. Wilson Popes

Awesome news: Perhaps you noted that A. N. Wilson was becoming a staunch supporter of the Christian faith after years as an atheist. But now he has entered full communion with Mother Church. Congratulations and a hearty welcome from the Mass'keteers. [ht: S. Kellmeyer @ Notes on the Culture Wars]

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Goebbelsdegook / ABC

Matt Drudge reports the marriage of ABC News and the Bureau of Propaganda: ABC TURNS PROGRAMMING OVER TO OBAMA; NEWS TO BE ANCHORED FROM INSIDE WHITE HOUSE

Awww - Too Bad

Matthew Archbold raises a delightful - tragic - problem (reminds me of that of 'Call to Action'):
Irony is abortionists worrying about where the next generation of abortionists is going to come from. You can't make this stuff up.

One mainstream media organization is saying abortionists are getting old and when the old generation retires who's going to be around to kill the next generation? Salon Magazine is concerned. Me? Not so much. In fact, I'm kind of pleased. Not that I don't think some shell of a human with a medical degree will step up since there's bucks to be made but it's good to see they're having difficulty replacing abortionists ...
Read all …

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cardinal Vingt-Trois

Just because Christianity is two thousand years doesn't mean it's old. Becoming Christian means adhering to Someone who is not a cultural object. Christ has certainly been carried by the culture called Christian, but it is not about that, it is about the person of Jesus. It's not about cultural renewal.

- Cardinal Vingt-Trois

Quotes of the Day - Forget at Your Peril

"All forms of politics are dirty, my friend. Democracies, dictatorships are variations on a theme: Please the mob."
- General von Roon in Herman Wouk's "Winds of War"

"When guilty people are struck mad,
their madness knows no guilt."
- Euripides, The Bacchae

"The highest form of hope is despair overcome."
- Georges Bernanos

Reconcile This

I'm in the mood for silliness; must be about time for my 3-month check-up (Friday). Here's Thomas Peters' Monday Catholic joke..

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The latest and best Cursillo ever!

Another successful Cursillo weekend - bringing many more into the love of Christ!

I am always humbled to my knees during each and every Cursillo that I have been blessed to do palanca. I am continually brought back to the vast majority of lay persons who usually have some regular church attendance but who may not have truly experienced the love of Christ through the Church. Simple and ordinary folks coming together in love - not hashing out doctrine or theology but embracing one another and helping each to find their place in the body of Christ.

Some people look for all the spiritual highs and what they can get out of each "event" and never look at how they might be called to help - maybe the person next to you in the pews is someone searching yet not knowing in what direction to turn, they may need you to share their walk into something like Cursillo.

Oh, excuse me, for those unaware of what a Cursillo is click HERE!

Chaput - The Future of the Church

For the record, read A Light to the Nations: The Meaning and Future of the Catholic Church by Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. here.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Corpus Christi

Deacon Greg Kandra's homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ can be read here.. [ht: The Anchoress]

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lord of the Czars

The Archbold brothers are at it again. You gotsta check out Lord of the Czars:

Three Billion for the Wall St. Kings with offices in the sky
Seven billion for the auto manufacturers and the unions drones
Nine for the insurance industry doomed to die
And for Lord Czaron, his Oval Office throne
In the land of the Washington where politicians lie

One Czar to rule them all, One Czar to find them
One Czar to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the land of the Washington where the politicians lie ...

Part 2 - Saving Beauty - Kurzweil

Warning Label: Before reading this post YOU MUST READ ATHOS POST AND LINK

It might also help to read President Opposite by The Anchoress. She reveals the "art" and "beauty" of doublespeak.
Now my post:

Where does God fit into the Singularity?

Although the different religious traditions have somewhat different conceptions of God, the common thread is that God represents unlimited—infinite—levels of intelligence, knowledge, creativity, beauty, and love. As systems evolve—through biology and technology—we find that they become more complex, more intelligent and more knowledgeable. They become more intricate and more beautiful, more capable of higher emotions such as love. So they grow exponentially in intelligence, knowledge, creativity, beauty, and love, all of the qualities people ascribe to God without limit. Although evolution does not reach a literally infinite level of these attributes, it does accelerate towards ever greater levels, so we can view evolution as a spiritual process, moving ever closer to this ideal. The Singularity will represent an explosion of these higher values of complexity.

So are you trying to play God?

Actually, I’m trying to play a human. I’m trying to do what humans do well, which is solve problems.

But will we still be human after all these changes?

That depends on how you define human. Some observers define human based on our limitations. I prefer to define us as the species that seeks—and succeeds—in going beyond our limitations.

Many observers point out how science has thrown us off our pedestal, showing us that we’re not as central as we thought, that the stars don’t circle around the Earth, that we’re not descended from the Gods but rather from monkeys, and before that earthworms.

All of that is true, but it turns out that we are central after all. Our ability to create models—virtual realities—in our brains, combined with our modest-looking thumbs, are enabling us to expand our horizons without limit.

Is it science fiction or reality? A lot of folks are on-board and they are already re-making truth, goodness and beauty in their image.

Read more on The Singularity is Near - the A-Line Story here
Read more on The Singularity is Near - the B-Line Story here

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Scruton - Saving the Beautiful

Roger Scruton opines on a subject near and dear to my heart, Beauty and Desecration - We must rescue art from the modern intoxication with ugliness.

Somewhere in the Desert

This one's for Aramis, a topic near and dear to his former-life heart: The Road to Area 51.

Chesterton - No Salvation Lite

Shamelessly lifted from Sean's blog, The Blue Boar. I've lifted this passage for folks who for some benighted reason believe that, while they have huge responsibilities as surgeons, attorneys at law, etc., salvation must be dumbed-down to a third-grade level of understanding. "Four Spiritual Laws," and altar-calls and the like.
The creed was like a key in three respects; which can be most conveniently summed up under this symbol. First, a key is above all things a thing with a shape. It is a thing that depends entirely upon keeping its shape. The Christian creed is above all things the philosophy of shapes and the enemy of shapelessness. That is where it differs from all that formless infinity, Manichean or Buddhist, which makes a sort of pool of night in the dark heart of Asia; the ideal of uncreating all the creatures. That is where it differs also from the analogous vagueness of mere evolutionism, the idea of creatures constantly losing their shape. A man told that his solitary latchkey had been melted down with a million others into a Buddhistic unity would be annoyed. But a man told that his key was gradually growing and sprouting in his pocket, and branching into new wards or complications, would not be more gratified.

Second, the shape of a key is in itself a rather fantastic shape. A savage who did not know it was a key would have the greatest difficulty in guessing what it could possibly be. And it is fantastic because it is in a sense arbitrary. A key is not a matter of abstractions; in that sense a key is not a matter of argument. It either fits the lock or it does not. It is useless for men to stand disputing over it, considered by itself; or reconstructing it on pure principles of geometry or decorative art. It is senseless for a man to say he would like a simple key; it would be far more sensible to do his best with a crowbar. And thirdly, as the key is necessarily a thing with a pattern, so this was one having in some ways a rather elaborate pattern. When people complain of the religion being so early complicated with theology and things of the kind, they forget that the world had not only got into a hole, but had got into a whole maze of holes and corners. The problem itself was a complicated problem; it did not in the ordinary sense merely involve anything so simple as sin. It was also full of secrets, of unexplored and unfathomable fallacies, of unconscious mental diseases, of dangers in all directions. If the faith had faced the world only with the platitudes about peace and simplicity some moralists would confine it to, it would not have had the faintest effect on that luxurious and labyrinthine lunatic asylum. What it did do we must now roughly describe; it is enough to say here that there was undoubtedly much about the key that seemed complex, indeed there was only one thing about it that was simple. It opened the door.

--The Everlasting Man

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Going Merrily in the Dark

I am beginning to think that this sort of event is clear evidence that the Scimitar is as hell-bent on self-destruction as, say, the destruction of Israel. From a mimetic theory point of view, the sacrificial containment system under the Scimitar is dilapidating as its denizens deconstruct their own sacred system picking up stones - and bombs to make - and hurling them at any and all within striking distance.

These are dangerous times. We are mortal. We needed, and still need, a Savior. Thankfully, we received One in Jesus Christ. And He did not leave us bereft; rather, He established the Catholic Church imbued and endowed with sacramental grace with which to see his followers safely all the way to Heaven.

Follow the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). Receive the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. Love, and do as you will.

But the men signed with the Cross of Christ
Go (merrily) in the dark ...

I tell you naught for your comfort,

Yea, naught for your desire,

Save that the sky grows darker yet

And the sea rises higher.

Night shall be thrice night over you,

And heaven an iron cope.

Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?

Thus speaks the Blessed Virgin to King Alfred in Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse. "...the men signed with the Cross of Christ Go (merrily) in the dark ..." With faith. And hope. And love.

And thus I saw the Voice that struck me dead! Merton on Paul

Athos posted on Merton and I admit that I have a very soft spot for Merton and it brought up a desire to post the following from a book which included many journal entries from his days at Gethsemani Abbey.

And lest the greatness of the revelations should puff me up, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me. For which thing I thrice besought the Lord, that it might depart from me: And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-9, Merton adds, "Paul")!

St Paul ACTS IX: 1 - 22

When I was Saul, and walked among the blazing rocks,
My road was quiet as a trap.
I feared what Word would split high noon with light;
And lock my sight, and drive me mad:

And thus I saw the Voice that struck me dead!

Tie up my life and wind me in my sheets of fear
And lay my reason in a three days' sepulchre,
'Till Jesus shows me Easter in a dream!

When I was Saul, and sat among the cloaks,
My eyes were stones. I saw no sight of heaven
Open to take the spirit of the twisting Stephen.
When I was Saul, and sat among the rocks,
I locked my eyes, my mind I made a tomb,
Sealed with what boulders rolled across my reason!

O Jesus, show me Easter in a dream!
O Cross Damascus, where poor Ananias in some other room,
(Who knows my locks, to let me out!)
Waits for Your word to take his keys, and come!

-- Fr. Louis (Thomas) Merton; written on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, January 25, 1942, at Gethsemani Abbey, Trappist, Kentucky. Published in Entering the Silence, p. 6.

Prayer Request - Gil Bailie

The Woodsman's Daughter (1850-51) - Sir John Everett Millais

Please remember in your prayers today Gil Bailie who is undergoing surgery.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Trinity Sunday - Yesterday and Today

As a convert to Mother Church, after an upbringing in the home of a devout Evangelical, Midwestern pastor, and after twenty-plus years being an ordained Protestant pastor myself, many have asked why. Why become a Catholic? Isn't it enough to know you are "saved" by "accepting" Jesus Christ as my "personal Lord and Savior?" What does the Catholic Church bring to me that wasn't available in a Protestant faith?

For me, it's been like following hints, intimations, a trail of bread crumbs in a dark wood.

Today is Trinity Sunday in Catholic Christendom. At Vigil Mass, we sang:

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

As a small boy, I sang exactly the same words. But I wondered, "Cherubim and seraphim? What are they?" They are orders of angels. Protestants don't care much about such things. "What 'denomination' does?" I wondered. I had no answer for a long time, but the question stayed with me.

Why? Because it seemed like a cool breeze from a wider, higher range of mountains; related, but of a world vaster than our dry and rather arid little land of John Wesley.

We sang of God in three persons, blessed Trinity at my father's Evangelical United Brethren church, All Saints, in South Bend, Indiana. It is no longer "All Saints Church." Now it is just "Faith Church."

We didn't emphasize the Trinitarian nature of the Holy Godhead, but we were drummed with making Jesus our personal Lord and Savior. Saints? Who cares? It is ALL about Jesus. Funny thing is, no one observed that the saints are the handiwork of Our Lord, living lamps of His grace burning in our world through the ages. No time for "saints".

On this Trinity Sunday, strangely, I find Our Lord, Jesus Christ, rules over a far more expansive Kingdom than the rather truncated one I grew up knowing as a non-Catholic child - the Church Triumphant in Heaven, enjoying the Beatific Vision before Him; the Church Suffering in Purgatory, being prepared and "purged" of the residue of sin so as to enjoy His Presence for eternity; and the Church Militant here on earth, struggling but assured of victory due to His Victory of the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

The Holy Catholic Church - 'catholic' is Greek for 'universal' - is big enough for everyone. God would not make the Church anything less. Yes, we must indeed "accept" Jesus as our Lord, but we are much more than mere "deciders". The Catholic Church provides for every aspect of human living to become sanctified ... all the way to Heaven where by God's grace alone we will enjoy the Beatific Vision of the Most Holy Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - for evermore.

Holy, Holy, Holy - God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity.

Prayers Needed - Gil Bailie

On this Trinity Sunday, please keep friend, mentor, and really great fellow, Gil Bailie, in prayer. Gil has informed his many readers, listeners, and friends that he will soon be facing major surgery. "A well deserved vacation ... attended round the clock by a courteous and competent staff," he quipped.

All of us at Four Mass'keteers are pulling for you, Gil.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Functional Atheism and Scimitar against ...

Listening recently to the CD of Gil Bailie's fifth Emmaus Road Initiative session (2/24/09) - Why did it take the Crucifixion to save us? - I realized again the vital distinction between the sacred and the mythical vs. the gospel and truth.

We live in a time when power is evinced by power of office, of wealth, of clout. How many divisions does the Pope have? is a question not only asked of a former Communist dictator, but every government that is a functionally atheist regime. That is, powers and principalities that look neither for an ally in Heaven nor to be judged by the same on terms not of their own choosing, but that of Heaven's (name one that does, please).

The only major world power that does - save (I hope) Israel - is no longer a temporal power in the normal sense of the word. It is the one, holy, apostolic, and Catholic Church. It occupies very little land, sum total; yet it purports to hold forth on matters magisterial to the entire human race - every man, woman, and child made in the image of God, imago dei.

That it should be such a target of venom and vitriol, such concerted efforts to divide and castigate it should - should - make every man, woman, and child made in the image of God wonder why. Why should the Catholic Church be heaped with such scorn and spite if it is merely an antiquated remnant of medieval superstition?

But, as Mark Studdock discovers in C. S. Lewis's prescient novel, That Hideous Strength, along with the powers and principalities that desire so much to arrogate and usurp for themselves the cult of power, persuasion, and permanence, the Normal (along with the True, Good, and Beautiful) has a remarkably tenacious way of rebuffing them, outnumbered, out-strategized, and out-gunned though it is.

This might be remarkable as a talking point, but right now the people of the biblical faiths - Judaism (and Israel is particular) and Christianity (and the Catholic Church in particular) are being attacked with a renewed vigor by a great many of the "functional atheist" regimes and peoples mentioned above. Even the most powerful man on the planet, President I Won, is catering hugely to Judaism's and Christianity's largest foe: the Scimitar.

Like all good politicians, he knows which way the (foul) wind blows, and he thinks he can harness it for his pitiably puny understanding of what is "good" for everyone. In this way, he merely another Protestant: he has studied under the finest progressive minds of post-modernity and has found Catholic truth, faith, and morals not to his liking. Therefore, he eschews them (read: rejects them) for another Rube Goldberg contraption. Which is passing strange, since his progressivist ideology can't possible assimilate the Scimitar's fervent intolerance for his permissive, Dionysiac values.

What they surreptitiously have in common is ... a common hatred for biblical truth. And it is always of value in politics and anthropological dealings to have a common scapegoat: someone or someones we can agree to sub-humanize and upon whom to cast blame.
And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day: for before they were at enmity between themselves. - Lk 23, 12
Who might that be? Who are those two figures left standing who believe in Heaven's authority, a Law that will not be superseded by human arrogance, hubris, and idolatry?

I think you know, gentle reader. Judaism and Catholicism.

Go, and Sin No More

Fr. Philip Neri Powell, O.P., Ph.D. (great name) writes,
Recently the "Vatican" (whoever that is) lamented the decline in the use of confession among Catholics.

It should be noted that this decline is directly tied to the lack of preaching against sin from Catholic pulpits. I don't mean screaming tirades bellowed from the ambo, but simple, straightforward declarations that sin is real and deadly to one's growth in holiness.

Some theologians and clergy don't see a problem with Catholics letting the Confession Muscle atrophy. They exclaim, "But God loves us where we're at! God accepts us as we are!" Yes, this is true. But confession is not about God loving you more or less. God will love you straight to hell if that's what you want. That's what free-will is all about ... (emphasis added)

A Total Eclipse of ... something - I'm not sure of what though

Sure! Whadja Say?

[ht: Jill @ Business of Life]

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Answering an Atheist

Way to go, Albert! [ht: New Advent]

Monastic Witness

This is not a painting ...

When you read the news, do you think that you have died and awakened in an alternative universe? a perverse, bizarre place where you know not the rules (there aren't any) nor the values (there is only one - free rein to desire)?

I suggest an antidote here. It is Father John Zuhlsdorf's sharing of Saint Mary Magdalene Monastery in Le Barroux, France, traditional Benedictines in full communion with the Holy See. Watch the embedded video. Listen to their chanted prayers and psalms. Let your eyes play over the images Fr Z has there.

Here is an update.

The monastic has a vital effect on me. I thank God for the witness of the monks whose prayers, I am convinced, keep our old world from blowing itself up (so far).